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Ivan "Jim" Hull

June 06, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Ivan "Jim" Hull, who died May 25 at the age of 86. His obituary was published in the May 27 edition of The Herald-Mail.

When their father died May 25 at the age of 86, sisters Jennifer Zeger and Donna Weiser said they had no shortage of things they will miss now that he's gone.

But both agreed that never again hearing Ivan "Jim" Hull's traditional greeting -- "Hi babe!" -- will be one of the hardest to do without.

"We were the apples of his eye ... and his grandchildren were, too," Jennifer said, speaking for herself and her sister.

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Love of family blended with his fierce patriotism. Donna said relatives are convinced he held on to life for Memorial Day on May 25 -- a holiday he always cherished.

In the late 1930s, Jim quit school in the ninth grade to join the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) like his brothers, Harry and Clyde, before him. He saw it as his duty as well as a way to help his large family.

"Dad sent all his money home to help the family," Jennifer said.

In later years, Jim often would point out roads in Allegany and Washington counties that he had surveyed during his stint with the CCC.

Later when he was in the Army, Jim put his CCC surveying skills to good use in Texas and California.

Jim and his wife, Betty Jane, were married in 1948. That union lasted 34 years until her death in 1982. That relationship was strong, notwithstanding the fact she was from Hagerstown and he was a Sharpsburg boy, born and raised.

Their union produced two daughters, at first cared for by their father after their mother died. Then later, those roles were reversed.

"We took dad to his appointments and then out for a meal and a ride ... he loved the rides," Donna said.

And when he was living at a number of assisted-living, then nursing-home facilities, the two sisters would visit regularly and make sure their father's room felt like home.

Emma Jean Robertson, Jim's niece, contributed to that effort with an oil painting of her uncle's beloved Burnside Bridge. That painting moved with him from place to place and always occupied a position of honor.

"You would have thought it was worth $1 million," Emma Jean said.

All three women remembered Jim as a man who never judged anyone. He never talked about anyone to others, and his family knew that about him.

"I remember dad teaching me to ride a bike," Donna said, remembering she was scared of falling. "He held on and said I could do it, and I did."

Years later, as he walked her down the aisle at her wedding, Donna said she again got scared.

"He told me to look at who was waiting for me at the end of the aisle," she said. "Then, I was all right."

After he completed his 35 years of employment at the Pangborn Corp., Jim spent his retirement years doing some traveling. He also often read a book a day and when he didn't have a book to read, he would pick up the encyclopedia.

Jim also enjoyed crossword puzzles, working them in ink, not pencil.

As his health deteriorated, Jim had to be content viewing nature through the window of his room. He enjoyed watching birds and seeing deer come close at night to play and eat.

"All our lives, dad taught us and our children to respect the land," Jennifer said. And he also imparted his love of home and family to all who would listen and learn.

Jennifer once wrote a poem in tribute to her father. "The Boy from Sharpsburg" was read at his funeral, and in one stanza, the poem illustrated how he felt about his hometown.

Never straying far from the family home

It seemed that all the streets of Sharpsburg were his backyard.

He loved to roam the Antietam Battlefield

Looking for Civil War bullets along with his friends

Knowing he would trade the bullets for pennies and candy,

He would search the battlefield until day's end.

Jim was a Sharpsburg boy right to the end.

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