Don was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Manuel Lamar McHugh and Minnie Lee McHugh. He was a graduate of Shades Valley High School and Auburn University where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He graduated from Auburn with Bachelor's Degrees in Business Administration and Civil Engineering. Don’s professional journey as an engineer landed him on St. Simons Island in 1998 where he spent the remainder of his career working for the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Georgia as an Environmental Engineer in the Environmental Protection Division (Coastal District).
Don served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Before being sent overseas, he graduated 1st in his class from the Army NCO which earned him the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6). He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, which is awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves by heroism or outstanding achievement. He also received the following: National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter/Marksmanship Badges for the M-14 and M-16, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal, and the Overseas Service Bar.
After retirement, Don enjoyed renovating his home on St. Simons Island and traveling with his wife, Kitty, to Ireland, Scotland, and Hawaii. He enjoyed visiting his children, their spouses, and his grandsons who live in Texas and Colorado. Don also enjoyed researching his family lineage and loved sharing information about his Great-Great-Great Grandfather, William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, a celebrated Chief of the Creek Nation. Don was an avid Auburn Football fan and enjoyed being a member of the Golden Isles Auburn Club where he could cheer on his Tigers. War Eagle!
Don is survived by his children Don Christopher McHugh (Melissa) and Laurie McHugh Kjeldgaard (Eric). He is also survived by his sister Pam Wootton (Dave), sister-in-law Betty Sibley (Bruce Person), brother-in-law Charles Markle (Ellen Behrend), grandchildren Wesley and Nick McHugh of Burleson, Texas and Graham Kjeldgaard of Golden, Colorado. Nieces and nephews include: Markelle Thompson (Jake and Kendal), Bryan Sibley (Beth), Patrick Wootton (Allison, Blake, Morgan), Kimberly Harn (Marty, Logan, Hudson), Stephen and Elise Markle. Jennifer Shuler (Ben and Anderson) and Michelle St. Clair (Scott, Samantha, and Branden) were considered second daughters to him.
Cremation was performed by Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home of Brunswick, GA. The family will be honoring Don’s wishes by having him buried at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Alabama. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for any donations in memory of Don C. McHugh to go to any of the following: The Wounded Warrior Project; Disabled American Veterans; or Veterans Administration.
Although Don’s death was unexpected, his surviving family rejoices in the knowledge that he was welcomed into Paradise with a raucous celebration led by his beloved wife, Kitty, his parents, and many friends.