Elizabeth “Bette” Schoenmakers Hughes, the first Michigan woman to command an American Legion Post, died on March 19 of a heart attack. She was 82.
Born in Ghent, Minn., and raised in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Hughes graduated from high school and signed up for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). She trained at Hunter College in New York, and became a photographer stationed in Grosse Ile, Mich., and Jacksonville, Fla.
After the war, Hughes studied photography and interior design at Oklahoma State University. She married, moved to New York and worked at the New York Public Library before returning to Grosse Pointe, Mich., to raise a family. Hughes also worked in interior design for the J.L. Hudson Co., and the Maurice Woods firm. One of her favorite projects involved redecorating an admiral’s quarters on a submarine.
Hughes devoted her spare time to representing area veterans. As head of American Legion Post (No. 303), she attended memorial ceremonies and laid wreaths on the tombs of military personnel. Her ashes will be buried in Byron Cemetery; she’ll be the first female veteran interred there.