Former council member, Hugh Ayer, dies

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Hugh Ayer, a former Denton City Council member and University of North Texas professor, died Monday at age 90.

Ayer served on the City Council from 1968 to 1972, and rejoined the council from 1988 to 1992. Prior to his time on the council, he also was a member of the Denton Planning and Zoning Commission from 1962 to 1966.

He also served on various boards of directors during his time in Denton, including the Community Food Center and the Denton Kiwanis Club.

Ayer moved to Denton in 1958 to teach history at North Texas State College, and during his 32-year career at the school, he was a professor, chairman of the Division of Social Science and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Gus Seligmann, an associate professor of history at UNT who worked with Ayer, said Ayer worked hard at the university to raise standards for faculty and students.

Ayer specialized in U.S. colonial history, but recognized the need for other strong history programs at the school, Seligmann said.

“He was one of the forces that helped shape the department into what it is now,” Seligmann said. “The two strengths now are Texas history and military history, and he taught neither one of them, but he recognized their importance.”

Ayer served in the U.S. Naval Reserves in the 1940s as a radio operator intercepting Japanese communications.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University, and his master’s and doctorate from Indiana University. He also taught at the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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