Donald B. Hughes, 80, of Sherwood, died on Sept. 24. A retired USAF Senior Master Sergeant, he served his country for 23 years
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and nine children, his two brothers and two sisters, his many grandchildren, and his legacy of service on behalf of others. They raised 10 children together.
"He was very active with Lions Club in the Gravel Ridge area," said Betty Barnhardt, executive director of Keep Sherwood Beautiful. "He was president and a former Lions Club district governor."
Hughes was named Sherwood’s 2012 Man of the Year for volunteerism, including chairing Keep Sherwood Beautiful. The Lions Club also awarded him many times for services that included President of the Gravel Ridge Lions Club and District Governor.
"Don will always be remembered for all he’s done, and we’re grateful for having the chance to know and love him. In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorials be made to the Lions World Services, your local Lions Club Chapter, or the Arkansas School for the Blind," said Barnhardt.
Barnhardt delivered the address at Hughes’ Memorial Service held on Oct. 3.
"Mid 2008, Don Hughes joined Keep Sherwood Beautiful as a Board member," Barnhardt said. "June of 2009 our Chairman announced he was retiring. Don agreed to be our new Chairman. I thought, ‘Oh boy, a new boss to get use to’ … wondering how work would be. Well, any fears I had quickly washed away by Don’s winning personality."
Barnhardt said though they may not be visible, Hughes has left his impression on Keep Sherwood Beautiful and the entire community.
"His problem solving ways and decision making attributes are admirable. This taught me new "how tos"! He could talk to anyone in any situation. If he needed something, he always managed to gently twist their arm and got what he was after," said Barnhardt.
Hughes also had a good sense of humor.
"His humor and laughter always eased any person or situation. At our cigarette counting program one year, he brought back a live snake! Then started a discussion as to what kind it was!! When we heard this, several of us were thankful we were not there," according to Barnhardt.
As a strict leader he kept meetings under control.
"When discussing an item it often ended with him stating ‘We are going to do it this way and stick to it!" During our (Keep Sherwood Beautiful) shredding events he would graciously sneak off to obtain lunch for the workers. Boy did I have a nut to crack to get the bill from him!!! Usually I lost," she said.
Barnhardt said Hughes was a pleasure to be around for all who volunteered with him.
"When he had one of our trash pickers in his hand, watch out," she said. "He loved to try to untie shoelaces with it. Or grab some long hair. Yet when a ladder needed to be steadied, he was there to help. We never asked him to use a hammer, per his instructions."
At the Sherwood Farmer’s Market, he often had a true water or ice fight with some young kids, thinking he was one of them.
Hughes never let his age hold him back.
"He was so happy to be recognized as the oldest volunteer at one of the cleanups," she said. "We were thrilled when he received the Man of the Year earlier this year."
Barnhardt said Hughes will leave a lasting memory.
"The enthusiasm he had for our community was contagious," she said." His generosity of spirit, wisdom and heart made him a pleasure to know and to work with. He is already missed."
With the G.I. Bill, Hughes achieved his degree from the University of Arkansas, but it was after joining the Lions Club that he had an experience that defined the rest of his life; as letters moved him from children who had received eye-glasses and surgery with the Lions Club help.
For the next two decades, Don committed his life to community service and charity. From raising money for eye exams, glasses, and surgeries for people in need, to collecting and delivering food to families, he left a lasting and loving impression on every life he touched.