Hough leaves legacy of community service

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Thursday, October 30, 2008
— When asked for a history of Albert Hough’s service at his family’s business, Bonnie Swenson couldn’t offer much.
“Albert was our historian,” said Swenson, director of marketing for the Janesville-based Hufcor, which started in 1900 as the Hough Shade Corp.

Hough, a son of company founder Azel Hough, died Monday. He was 88.

A 1938 graduate of Janesville High School, Hough left Beloit College to serve with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. in World War II.

Upon his return to Rock County in 1945, Hough joined the family business, where he held a variety of sales roles—including vice president of sales—until 1979, when he left to start a business with his wife, Lois.

“He was so involved with the people here,” said Swenson, whom Hough hired as a temporary employee in the late 1960s.

Hough later hired Swenson as a marketing assistant.

On her office wall, she has a note that Hough sent her in 2007. It congratulated her on 36 years with the company, even though Hough had been gone as a full-time employee at Hufcor for more than 25 years.

“He just had such a wonderful way with people,” she said. “You couldn’t find a more wonderful man.”

Or a man who cared more for his community, particularly its youth.

A quick check of Hough’s extensive newspaper clip file articulates that commitment: Hough was involved as a community fundraiser, a leader in his church and a backer of just about every technical education event that appeared on the community’s calendar.

In several roles, Hough supported the chamber of commerce, the local concert association, the YMCA and the United Way. He was a leader in the local scouting scene—both boys and girls—and served on the city’s police and fire commission and the Janesville Board of Education.

Over the years, the Hough family hosted several AFS exchange students, and the couple found time in 2002 to publish a book on Janesville’s oldest continuing businesses.

“He was very much a people person, whether it was with the school board, as a church member, at the historical society or any of the other things he was involved with,” said Albert’s older brother, John, who is chairman of the board at Hufcor, the world’s largest manufacturer of operable partitions, accordion folding doors, glass wall partitions and portable walls.

After “retiring” from Hufcor and in anticipation of grandchildren, Hough and his wife started The Wisconsin Wagon Co., a small manufacturer of handcrafted coaster wagons and other wooden toys that had played such an important role in Hough’s formative years.

“He really wanted to recreate that wagon that he had as a boy,” said John Dooley, who worked with Hough at Hufcor and later joined him at Wisconsin Wagon.

“He was a very talented guy and good with measurements,” Dooley said. “He went to the historical society, researched the wagon and then built one.

“He was a real goer.”

Swenson said the wagon company was a perfect extension for the Houghs.

“When they started that company, I thought that Albert and Lois would be the perfect Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus,” she said.

Until his death, Hough continued as Hufcor’s corporate secretary.

While some of the company’s history is now gone, Hough’s legacy of community service will live on.

Services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday at First Congregational Church in Janesville, with visitation an hour before.

Last updated: 10:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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