Hugh Alexander Dignon, 78, of Newtown, and formerly of Brookfield, died August 20 at Danbury Hospital after complications arising from a stroke. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, May 16, 1936, to Jean (Kinloch) and Hugh Dignon, and moved to the United States in the early 1960s.
Earning a PhD, he taught literature and journalism for most of his career at Queens College, City University of New York. A keen intellect, Dr Dignon knew Latin, spoke fluent French and Spanish, and dabbled in Italian, German and Mandarin. His woodwork and DIY projects exemplified his fierce independence and disciplined self-teaching.
Primarily regarded by those who knew him for his (sometimes) notorious adventures, Dr Dignon was a relentless traveler. In his teens, he cycled to France to work the vineyards. He later took multiple cross-continental road trips — spanning months — with family across Europe, South America, Asia and North America. He spent years teaching in France and China, and lived in Spain to author a book. His photographs of art, nature, architecture, and indigenous peoples were among his favorites.
Locally, Dr Dignon loved walking and was a frequent visitor to Huntington Park, Lake Lillinonah, and Macedonia State Park. A soccer and tennis enthusiast, he proudly supported Glasgow Celtic all his life, and played soccer with the Newtown Salty Dogs for many years. He enjoyed the music, dancing, and whiskeys of Ireland and Scotland, and was a season ticket holder for the New York City Ballet. He was also a die-hard romantic, yet lived by his conviction that “blood runs thicker than water.”
His five children, Suzanne Dignon, and husband Ian Neville, of San Francisco, Gavin Dignon, and fiancée Tara Engelman, of Fairfield, Alasdair Dignon, and wife Gina Palanzo, of Fairfield, Terry Dignon of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Sinead Dignon of Charlotte, N.C.; and five grandchildren, Ewan, Addison, McKenna, Fionnuala, and Alasdair, survive Dr Dignon. All four of his siblings, Jean Conroy, James Dignon, Terry Dignon, and Alec Dignon, predeceased him. He will be fondly remembered by family and friends for his warmth, humor, tolerance, and passion for adventure.
A memorial service will take place Thursday, August 28, from 5 to 9 pm, at Anna Liffey’s, 1494 Post Road, Fairfield. Notes of condolence can be sent to the Dignon Family at 113 Charles Street, Fairfield CT 06824.