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Family, friends and shipmate say
"Goodbye" to Hutch
as attended and reported by VSO Chuck Weber (LTjg 76-77)
It was a beautiful New England morning Saturday, September 17, 2016 at Maple Hill Cemetery. The cemetery was just off an old dirt road on a hill overlooking the small town of Washington, Vermont. We all had gathered there at 10:00 am to say farewell to our friend and shipmate, Francis H. “Hutch” Hutchins.
At 10:30, a vintage ladder truck from the Washington Volunteer Fire Company arrived and from it emerged Chad McGowan, Hutch’s grandson, who was bearing his remains.
The minister read from Scripture and offered a few prayers. He spoke of Hutch as a man of many accomplishments. All of Hutch’s extended family where there and agreed.
A Military Honors Funeral was conducted by two Naval Reserve officers who volunteered their time and drove a great distance to honor Hutch for his Naval service. One Captain and one Commander rendered taps, a tribute, a salute and then presented a folded flag to Chad.
After mutually shared condolences the group left for the Barre VFW Post for a reception and, as Chad put it, to lift a glass to Hutch one last time.
It was a good and fitting send off for this man whom we all loved. Fair winds and following seas, Master Chief.
I learned about Hutch’s last day. He and a relative drove to a nearby town to see the eye doctor. The relative left Hutch there while he went about some other chores. When he returned, Hutch was gone. It was quick, painless and unexpected. Indeed, they had made plans for the next day and for two weeks later with other relatives.
Everyone said it was just like Hutch to die on February 29th, leap day. Now everyone would only have to remember him every four years. I met several friends who were at the Rich reunion in Barre back in 2001. One lady was our bartender, several others prepared the food. They still talk out that reunion.
Chad, whom we all remember from previous Rich reunions, decided to leave the Navy in the beginning of September. Chad hastily pointed out that he “got permission from Hutch” before submitting his papers. He and his family are relocating from Jacksonville, FL to Barre, VT. I also saw Hutch’s niece, Holly, who attended Hutch’s last reunion with us. She asked me to say Hi to everyone.
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