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County councilman Jim Hughes dies suddenly
Written by Denise Freitag Burdette   
Monday, December 10, 2012 10:17 PM

Shock.

That is the first emotion many people felt upon hearing Dearborn County councilman and retired South Dearborn schools math and drivers education teacher

Jim Hughes, Dillsboro, had passed away suddenly Sunday, Dec. 9, from a heart attack.

That is how retired Dillsboro Elementary principal Bill Lakes, Aurora, said he felt when he received the phone call.

“Jim was an excellent teacher, person. He related really well with kids,” said Lakes, who considered Hughes a good friend.

Many of his former students back up that statement, praising Hughes on his Facebook page, many still in disbelief that he is gone.

“I never forgot how much you genuinely cared about your students and their education.”

“Inspirational, motivational and compassionate. You were one of my greatest influences while growing up in Dillsboro and truly helped to mold me into the man I am today.”

“You made learning fun and learning to drive not so scary.”

“You were one of a kind and I will truly miss you. You are the only teacher I had growing up that I considered a friend.”

“A lot of people will miss him. ... Jim was a good man, who had a good heart,” said county councilman Bill Ullrich, Aurora, adding Hughes stuck to his principles.

“It is a loss, not only to the family, but to the community. My prayers go out to the family,” said Ullrich.

He enjoyed getting to know Hughes while serving together on county council. Hughes was elected to the fiscal board in fall 2010.

He left his mark, especially with the many students he taught through the years, said Ullrich.

Hughes taught school for South Dearborn schools for 31 years. He taught middle school math for four years at Manchester, 20 years at Dillsboro and seven years at South Dearborn Middle School. He also served as vice principal at Dillsboro school for 10 years, in addition to having taught drivers’ ed for 24 years as well as coaching.

“I learned as a teacher when you show respect and honesty to students they in turn will show you respect and honesty to you. Not only did this create a good learning environment with students but also with parents, and any other people that worked for the school system (cooks, custodians, bus drivers, maintenance men, secretaries, administrators and other teachers),” said Hughes in his 2010 Register Publications candidate statement. 

Hughes started working for South Dearborn Schools in 1974. When the district re-organized in 1978, with the opening of South Dearborn High School, he left Manchester School to work at Dillsboro, which was a kindergarten through eighth grade school at the time, said Lakes.

He graduated from Dillsboro High School and he opted to come back to Dillsboro, he said.

Upon his return he coached seventh and eighth grade boys basketball, and became the student council sponsor, said Lakes.

One of the highlights at Dillsboro was when the eighth grade team he coached won the Dearborn County Boys Basketball Championship in 1981, he said.

“It was a deal to us. We were the small school ... playing all the bigger schools,” said Lakes.

When Lakes became principal at Dillsboro, he knew just the man to ask to take over the vice principal job.

“He was the type of person that, as a principal, if I needed something I could always ask Jim and it would be done,” said Lakes.

Before taking on the added responsibilities of vice principal, Hughes often could be found out playing football and basketball with the students, he said.

“I think they really appreciated him being more than just a teacher,” said Lakes.

When South Dearborn Middle School opened, Hughes moved to the new school as one of the middle school teachers. Dillsboro became a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school, he said.

After retiring in 2005, Hughes ran for a spot on county council in 2010, at the request of his brother, Jeff Hughes.

Dearborn County commissioner Jeff Hughes said he asked his brother if he would help with county government and he stepped up. He wanted to see things done the right way.

"He  just put a lot of people before himself," said Jeff Hughes.

In his candidate statement for Register Publications, Jim Hughes said he was running for office, not because he was a politician, but “a very concerned lifetime citizen of Dearborn County whom growing up here on a family farm and teaching in Dearborn County for 31 years sees a need for some changes to be made.”

He wanted to bring more jobs to Dearborn County and lower real estate taxes.

When asked why he was the best person for the job, Hughes replied, “My experience growing up on a family farm taught me not only a good work ethic but respect for animals, things that grow and especially other human beings. I grew up in a family the eldest of 4 boys (David, Tim, and Jeff) and two of the finest parents you could ever have, James Hughes (Trigger) and Mary Hughes. We were poor in a sense of financial means but my parents took very good care of not only us and the family farm but also watched out for and helped all the neighbors. They were always giving food from the garden to other people and you could never come to our house without them inviting you to sit down to the table and eat with us. We were close-knit family and very happy and I would not trade that for anything.”

“He was an all-around nice guy. ... Everyone is in major shock. ... It is very sad,” said county administrator Terri Randall.

“He took an active role and learned what he could,” she said.

Even though he was not a proponent for the proposed jail addition/expansion, due to concerns about the cost to taxpayers, he took up county council president Dennis Kraus on an offer to join the committee studying the project. He came to almost every meeting, went on jail site visits, to learn everything he could, she said.

Visitation will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Dillsboro Elementary School. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Dec. 15, at the school. DeVries Funeral Home, Dillsboro, is in charge of arrangements.

The Tuesday, Dec. 11, Dearborn County council meeting, on the proposed county jail addition/expansion has been canceled. The topic will be discussed during the 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, county council meeting, at the county administration building, 215B W. High St., Lawrenceburg.

Last Updated on Monday, December 10, 2012 11:57 PM