Hugh Rawson, 76, had career in writing
Hugh Rawson, 76, of Roxbury, died unexpectedly on June 1. He was the husband of Margaret Miner.
A resident of Roxbury since moving from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1984, he was an active member of the local community and involved in publishing in one way or another all his working life, as a writer, editor, newspaper and magazine reporter, and book-publishing consultant.
Born on Sept. 12, 1936, he grew up in Mamaroneck, N.Y., with his two sisters, Joanna and Sarah, and brother, Clayton. He stayed in the Rye Neck school system through his sophomore year in high school, when a Ford Foundation scholarship took him to Yale University at the age of 15.
After graduating from college in 1956, he spent two years in the U.S. Army medical corps, rising to the august rank of private first class.
He began his career as a reporter for the American Banker, a daily financial newspaper, and as an editor for a weekly McGraw-Hill business magazine. Later he went into book publishing, running the trade department (i.e., books for general readers) of a medium-size, family-owned firm, Thomas Y. Crowell.
After Crowell was sold, he adopted a split-level lifestyle, working two or three days a week for publishers -- his last part-time job was as director of Penguin USA's reference books operation -- while freelancing the rest of the time. He edited the Bulletin of the Authors Guild for a dozen years, wrote a column about American words and phrases for American Heritage magazine, the Huffington Post, and most recently for Cambridge Dictionaries Online.
The rest of his time was devoted to freelance writing in a variety of fields, working on his own books, and acting as a literary agent for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ken Silverman.
Since 1982, he edited the annual editions of "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide." Recently, he spent most of a year working with William Safire on a new edition of Safire's Political Dictionary.
He was an author of several books, including three about language: "Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms & Other Doubletalk," "Wicked Words," which is the opposite of "Euphemisms," in that it tells you everything you might want to know about so-called "bad" words, and "Devious Derivations," a book about folk etymologies. He also is the author of "Unwritten Laws: The Unofficial Rules of Life as Handed Down by Murphy and other Sages." His books have appeared in various editions in the U.S. and abroad.
He also co-wrote five dictionaries of quotations with his wife, Margaret Miner: "The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations," "The New International Dictionary of Quotations," "A Dictionary of Quotations from the Bible," "A Dictionary of Quotations from Shakespeare" and the "American Heritage Dictionary of Quotations."
He was active in local community affairs. He was a member of the Roxbury Conservation Commission (previously having served as chairman) and the Board of Finance, chairman of the Roxbury Democratic Town Committee and chairman of the Roxbury Scholarship Foundation. He also was a committee member for the Washington-based After School Arts Program's Scholarship Committee and the Frank McCourt Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
In prior years, he served as a member of the Roxbury Library board for 12 years, where his involvement began on the fundraising committee to raise money for what is now Minor Memorial Library. He formerly served for six years on the board of the After School Arts Program, as a member of the scholarship committee of the Connecticut Community Foundation, and was a former coach of the Roxbury girls' softball team.
He was a justice of the peace, and presided over the marriage of his daughter, Catherine, to her husband, Dominic Gillen, of New Preston, in 2002.
He was one of the founders of Our Towns for Sar-E-Pol, a humanitarian effort that helps women and children in Sar-e-Pol, Afghanistan, through Save the Children.
He was also active with the Save our Shepaug initiative. As a result, in 2009, he was presented a Friend of the River Award from the Housatonic Valley Association for his long-standing dedication to restoring water flows and monitoring the health of the Shepaug River. That same year he was also given a Volunteer Appreciation Award from the town of Roxbury for exemplifying being a "good neighbor" and for "not only (being) the first to lend a hand, but equally, a behind-the-scenes volunteer, friend and true supporter of many town events." In 2012, he was the keynote speaker at the Roxbury Memorial Day Parade.
His parents were the late Catherine and Clayton Rawson, of Mamaroneck, N.Y., where Clayton Rawson was the longtime executive director of the local United Way. Clayton Rawson was at different stages of a multifaceted career a commercial artist, art director, magician, mystery-story writer (his detective hero was a magician, the Great Merlini), editor of Simon & Schuster's Inner Sanctum mysteries, managing editor of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and a founder of the Mystery Writers of America, whose motto he created: "Crime does not pay -- enough."
Miner is executive director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, which works to preserve and protect all of Connecticut's rivers and water resources. Nathaniel Rawson is a scuba diving instructor on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand, and Catherine Rawson is the executive director of Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust.
A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, June 9, at 2 p.m. at Roxbury Town Hall, 29 North St., Roxbury.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, P.O. Box 1797, Litchfield CT 06759, or to the Minor Memorial Library, 23 South St., Roxbury CT 06783.