Joseph Michael Hughes
August 2, 1930 – October 9, 2020
On Friday, October 9, Joseph Michael Hughes died with his wife Susan in the same place she has been for 65 years, right by his side.
Joe was the first-born son to Mike and Mary (Nugent) Hughes; poor Irish immigrants who came to America during the Great Depression of 1929. Without an education, his dad was often out of work during those early years but eventually became the owner of a bar in a rough section of Brooklyn, NY. It is during those years that Joe learned the valuable lessons that he never learned in school. He learned entrepreneurship, gained financial acumen, and grit. Joe’s mother, Mary, was a strict but loving and kind Irishwoman. He would often say he got all his best traits of kindness and love from her.
For anyone who knew him it will come as no surprise that in his youth, Joe struggled with schoolwork and staying out of trouble, but he always loved sports. He credited a nun with getting him interested in basketball which provided a new outlet for him. This encouragement led to a scholarship at St. Francis Prep. He became captain and led the team to the 1948 NYC championship. His talent earned him a basketball scholarship to St. John’s University where he led the team in scoring his freshman year before transferring to the University of Denver. He again led the team in scoring and was given the nickname “Jumpin’ Joe” due to his 42-inch vertical leap. He was drafted into the NBA following his junior year by the Syracuse Nationals, who are now known as the Philadelphia 76ers. He opted for the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots for a more lucrative opportunity and stayed with Goodyear for five years. Always a colorful storyteller, for those who knew him well, these facts may at first give you pause, due to Joe’s tendency to add “color commentary” to his “true” stories. This time, there’s photographic proof.
After college, basketball, and two years in the army, he married his beautiful bride, and lifelong guardian angel, Susan A Weir, immediately following her graduation from high school. As it happened in those days, they started having a family. One after the other, five wonderful girls filled their home. When his sister died leaving eight children behind and then her husband died with two more, Joe and Sue adopted five nieces and nephews. And they opened their hearts again to his sister Pat’s sons.
Having a houseful became a great motivator. Starting with Goodyear in Akron, OH, Joe’s ambition led to a transfer to Indianapolis. In Indy, he met Marty Larner while playing handball. Marty offered Joe a job as a salesperson at his small auto parts company. It was one of the biggest risks Joe took, and it proved to be life changing. Joe eventually bought out the family-owned business and on a business trip in 1974, three friends hatched a marketing plan and called it Carquest Auto Parts
CarQuest founders Danny Bock, O. Temple Sloan Jr., and Joe remained lifelong friends.
During all the years, no one has had more fun than Joe, playing handball, squash, tennis, and golf, with his buddies. His handball friends included Don Healy, Dr. Leo McCarthy, and Denny Freeman. He played tennis with Joe DeVito and Peter Sakon, who became lifelong friends. Joe and his buddies would laugh and argue about game scores played years ago and it would have brought him joy to know he got one last chance to boast about his handball scoring days.
Although not much for introspection, Joe did answer a few questions recently for his family. He was asked, “ what are you most proud of?” Joe said, “My family, and what they are doing with their lives. They are all honest, hard- working people. Also, I am satisfied with what I have done with my life. I could have easily gone the other way if it wasn’t for basketball…and getting married.” Asked how he wanted to be remembered, Joe said, “That I was a good friend; that I lived my life the way I wanted to.” He said the most important things in his life were, “my wife, family, and friends.” When asked what were the best years of your life? His reply, “From the time I married until now.” Joe was preceded in death by his sisters Pat Callahan and Ann Roth, brother Jay Hughes, and grandsons Deputy Sheriff Jason Mathew Baker and Wesley Joseph Baker. Joe is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Mary Roth, Debbie Hughes, Sharon (Jerry) Baker, Laura Hughes (Tom Strickland), AnnMarie (Greg) Roth Young, Tari Hancock, Noreen Barker, Linda Hughes Hillman, son Mark Roth, nephews Rob Callahan, Tom (Janice) Pepe, daughter-in-law Tami Roth, Grandchildren Conner Spurlin (Abby), John Spurlin, Sarah Baker, Gabrielle Baker, Ale Hughes, Emily Christensen (Dane), Cayley Young, Quinn Hancock, Bo Hancock, Taylor Hancock, Matt Barker, Grant Barker, Kevin Roth, Alex Roth, Jolie Hillman, Great Grandson Leo Roth- all of whom addressed him as “Chief”.
Due to covid there will no memorial service at this time. If you would like to make a donation, in lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to the Jason Baker Foundation Inc. http://heroesofpublicsafety.org or Hospice of the Valley - https://www.hov.org Raise a glass, make a toast to “Sue, family, and friends” ~ and cheers to Joe
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Joseph Michael Hughes
October 21, 2020
Always there to support me when I needed it most ("true story")
October 19, 2020
I knew Joe from the Camelback Inn Spa. We had many wonderful conversations on many subjects from sports, to current affairs and the state of our world. Everyone loved Joe at the Spa as he held court on his favorite lounge chair overlooking the pool. He lived a long life with his devoted and caring wife Sue and his many children and grandkids. I shall never forget his beautiful smile, his gentle nature, and his zest for life. We who knew him will miss Joe, but we will never forget him. RIP Dear Joe.
October 15, 2020
Warm embraces and heartfelt sympathy to you and all your family. Joe was always a favorite of mine. His obituary captured his life so well. My applause to the author. Reading his obit made me happy. I chuckled, I teared, and I admired a life well lived. His life was one of adventure, hard work, humor, and loyalty. Being called Chief is one of the most appropriate nomenclatures I’ve ever heard. It brought a smile to my face which is what Joe continuously did all his life. I couldn’t help but laugh when Joe was around.
Another resounding message in Joe’s obit was your love and loyalty to him. You stood by him through many challenges, but never uttered “woe is me.” The two of you were an unending duo of all-encompassing love for others. Knowing the two of you has blessed my life.
Much love to all,
October 13, 2020
Nothing speaks to the character of Joe and Sue more than the amazing family they raised together. Joe, with Sue by his side, lived a life of providing a supportive and loving home for his large family.
My love and condolences go out to the whole family as they will miss Joe deeply.
October 12, 2020
We have known Sue for many years, and know that her life revolved around Joe and her family. We know that Joe and Sue loved life and
enjoyed all of the years they got to spend together.
Margaret Wagner Bower
October 12, 2020
Thank you Jumpin’Joe & your beloved wife Sue for giving us your beautiful daughter Laura, who has been an integral and uniquely humorous part of our sista-tribe for 5 decades now. You created a beautiful family, the ripple effect of which has touched so many lives in so many ways.