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International family reunites after loss

Pictured are, first row from left to right, Debbie Wheeler, Raelyn Phillips, Paula Raders and Alex Jacques. Pictured are, second row from left to right, Jacqueline Miller, Kristin Niermuier, David Niermuier, Daniel Jaques, Sue Jacques, Charline Blanchard, Yvonne Atkinson, Danie River, Michel Jacques, Ava Jacques, Marc Jacques and Silvia Hughes.  (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Pictured are, first row from left to right, Debbie Wheeler, Raelyn Phillips, Paula Raders and Alex Jacques. Pictured are, second row from left to right, Jacqueline Miller, Kristin Niermuier, David Niermuier, Daniel Jaques, Sue Jacques, Charline Blanchard, Yvonne Atkinson, Danie River, Michel Jacques, Ava Jacques, Marc Jacques and Silvia Hughes.
(Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Recently, a family spanning multiple states as well as two countries came together in The Friendliest City in the South to not only reunite, but to also bid farewell to one of their most cherished members.

Luverne was the place where Yvonne Hughes Atkinson, a French native, settled after marrying Jesse Morris Hughes, who was the son of Morris Hughes from the Beat 12 area of the county.

Yvonne and Jesse married and in 1965 came back to settle in Luverne.

Many of Jesse and Yvonne’s children were born in France, but came to America, where they were raised in Crenshaw County.

Pictured are from left to right, Daniel Jacques, Yvonne Atkinson, Michel Jacques, Jacqueline Miller and Marc Jacques. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Pictured are from left to right, Daniel Jacques, Yvonne Atkinson, Michel Jacques, Jacqueline Miller and Marc Jacques. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Her son, Jesse Raymond Hughes, attended Luverne High School as well as Dozier High School. His sisters Sylvia Hughes and Debbie Wheeler also grew up in Crenshaw County.

After the untimely death of Jesse Raymond Hughes due to his battle with cancer, the family continues to mourn their loss. But this time will not just be seen as sad for them because it also offers them the chance to see their relatives that live abroad in France as well as those in New York, West Virginia and Florida.

“This may be one of the last times we will all see each other, so we will have a reunion as well as the memorial service on Saturday,” said Daniel Jacques.

Yvonne’s siblings-Jacqueline, Marc, Daniel and five others-remained in France, but would occasionally come for a visit.

Jacqueline also married a GI, but settled in West Virginia, and when her brother Daniel came to the United States, he married a West Virginia girl and lived there before recently moving to Florida.

Marc Jacques, another brother, remained in France with their other five siblings, and he hadn’t seen some members of the family for 48 years until just a few years ago at a surprise family reunion that was also held in Luverne.

Yvonne Atkinson poses with her son’s portrait. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

Yvonne Atkinson poses with her son’s portrait. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

This past Saturday, a portion of the family arrived in Luverne at Yvonne’s home and shared stories and laughs as they recalled their favorite memories of Jesse and the time they spent with him. Later that day, the group traveled to Troy to have dinner at Mossy Grove and enjoy food and more fellowship. Many more family members are expected to arrive for the memorial service on Saturday, such as the wife, son and daughter of Jesse Hughes, Lynne, Clay and Meagan Hughes.

“We didn’t plan for him to die, but it has brought us a lot closer,” Daniel Jacques said.

“He was here only about four years ago, but he passed away last week.”

A memorial service for Jesse Hughes will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Luverne Free Will Baptist Church. Jesse was a member of the Crenshaw County community until the age of 17, when he moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.