James Haugh was not just a deacon at St. Stanislaus Church, he was an unofficial "deacon" to the city of his birth.
"His biggest thing was his family, church — and the city of East Chicago," said his daughter, Bridget Laviolette.
As a 45-year bricklayer for Inland Steel, he parlayed that skill into a way to help the city's children.
James C. Haugh, 77, of East Chicago, died Dec. 9.
He always felt that kids needed pointing into a positive direction. He sought help from other professionals and began the Youth Government and Building program in the mid-1990s, his daughter said.
With professional guidance, the kids actually built homes from the ground up.
Haugh, who felt that a steel town could also look beautiful, founded Tree City, which planted trees in various areas around the city.
They even helped a lady put trees and a bench on her corner lot, Laviolette said with pride.
She noted that her dad was involved in the Carnegie Library restoration project in Indiana Harbor.
"He was instrumental in starting it."
In the late 1990s, Haugh started the food pantry at St. Stanislaus, which currently helps more than 400 people, Laviolette said.
Haugh was ordained a deacon in 2000.
"His ministry was the homebound," including those in hospitals and nursing homes, his daughter said.
He spent a lot of time talking with and listening to them and Laviolette noted that more than 500 people attended his visitation.
Laviolette said her father devoted his life to other people.
"Everything he lived for was to help someone else."
Haugh's wife, Marjorie, said they were high school sweethearts who went from classmates to being husband and wife for 57 years.
"He was my honey," she lovingly said.