John Ernest Hubbs – 1935-2017

Too soon and yet after too much suffering, my father has died as the result of complications from Parkinson’s. It’s a horrible disease. An eventual life sentence of deteriorating motor skills, loss of independence and dementia. He was 82, but in the past year, he aged to look ten years older. He was my Daddy and no matter what illness did to him, he somehow kept a glimmer of his sense of humour, a testament to his strength.

My dad sitting in an upholstered chair, wearing a blue plaid shirt and suspenders

Dad defied the odds and his own lack of formal education and started his own business, after eighteen years of working for CN railway. ┬áCN wasn’t a safe place to work back then. Colleagues got killed in terrible ways. Dad saw the limits of working for CN to his lifespan and his bank account, and decided to strike out on his own.

After joining a couple of brothers in a pallet company, he launched his own railroad-related business, Galaxy of West Lincoln, and for decades he and my brother and their various crews traveled the country, taking up decommissioned railroad tracks and dismantling bridges and trestles. As kids, we knew how to advise customers about the various grades and types of railroad ties. For many years, with our Mom doing the books and running the offices, they did very well.

Dad always had an interest in horses and he was probably the happiest when he was training, riding or mucking out the stalls of his own beasts. Dad was an Olympic-level prankster. From his legendary games of touched-you-last to a long list of giggle-inducing capers, he liked nothing better than making someone laugh. This is my favourite picture of my Dad. I had been playing with his hair and noticed it would stand up on its own. He agreed to the photo, enjoying how much he was making me laugh.

close-up of my dad looking much older with a clump of his grey hair sticking straight up. He's smiling

When I was little, Dad trained me to say a few different things. One of the phrases that came up over and over again through our lives was, “I’m your darling daughter and I love you very much”. It always made us smile. I wrote that on a card I gave him this past Valentine’s Day.

This isn’t a complete story of my Dad’s life. I couldn’t possibly tell you everything that happened over eight decades. He used to ride a motorcycle. He sold produce from a portable stand. He loved to fish and hunt. And there’s a lot about his life I simply didn’t, and couldn’t know. He wasn’t perfect. He liked his beer a little too much in his middle years, but he more than made up for his absences later in life. He was kind and sensitive. He worried more than he liked to let on. His last words to me, when he fully knew it was me, were “I love you”. It doesn’t get any better than that in this life. I love you, too, Dad. I’m your darling daughter and I love you very much.

My Dad’s official obituary, including a nod to his legendary pranks, is here: Jack Hubbs.

10 thoughts on “John Ernest Hubbs – 1935-2017”

  1. So beautiful. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your dad with us. I can say it no better than Kahlil Gibran: ‘When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.’

    1. That’s beautiful and accurate. We’re crying for the loss of what we loved about him. But we’re also grateful that he isn’t suffering.

  2. Linda Reid

    There are never any words that can adequately cover how much it sucks to lose someone precious to you. Your Dad sounds like he was an interesting, intelligent and funny man and I’m really sorry that you and your family are having to deal with this.

  3. Jean White

    Hello Lisa, I’m so very sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad.
    I am thinking of you and your family during this time.
    I love the picture re the hair. Celebrate the 82 years that he lived and enjoy the memories he has left you with.
    Take care.

    1. I hope to get to that point soon, Jean. I know we’ll eventually smile when we think of him, once all of this sadness passes. Thank you.

  4. Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad but my memory of him will be all about the grapes and your walk to find them. May a field of grapes always be near by where he is today.

  5. Betty Hubert (McPherson)

    Sorry to hear about your Dad Lisa. I remember his sense of humor and laugh. You and I attended grade school together at Gainsborough and he was always cheerful and kind to me. He will always be in your heart!

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