Robert Earl Hughes (4 June 1926 – 10 July 1958) was, during his lifetime, the heaviest human being recorded in the history of the world at over 1041 pounds. How was Bremen involved? Robert Hughes died here in Bremen.

Recently, Duwaine Elliott gave the Bremen History Center his file folder on Mr. Hughes. This file includes pictures, newspaper articles, and other items. Duwaine Elliott helped prepare Hughes’ body for burial. The information below was taken from these documents.

Hughes:

  • was a sideshow attraction with Gooding Brothers Amusement Company
  • lived in a semi-trailer where he was confined to a large bed
  • took ill with measles while at show in Nappanee
  • was brought in his trailer to Bremen Community Hospital on July 3, 1958
  • was attended by Dr. CR Burket and the hospital nurses in his trailer, which was parked at the rear of the hospital
  • died on July 10, 1958
  • was taken in his trailer to the Huff Funeral Home to be prepared for burial by Marvin Siefer and Duwaine “Junior” Elliott, Huff Funeral Home embalmers
  • was taken in his trailer to Mount Sterling, Illinois, and placed in a casket measuring 7 ft long and 4 ft 4 in wide by 2 ft 10 in deep
  • was mourned by more than 2000 at his funeral services
  • was buried in the cemetery in Benville, Illinois, where his grave is marked with an oversized head stone

He is often said to have been buried in a piano case. This error stems from a sentence that appeared in successive editions of the Guinness Book of World Records, which read, “He was buried in a coffin the size of a piano case.”

Note: In the book Dave Barry is From Mars and Venus, the author recommends starting the “vacation of a lifetime” in Bremen. Owing to the suggestion to ask about the casket preparation for Hughes in a Marshall county tourism brochure, he recommends honking at any resident and shouting “WHAT ABOUT THE CASKET PREPARATION FOR THE WORLD’S HEAVIEST MAN?” If this happens within earshot of you, please direct them to the Bremen History Center.