OBITUARY: John “Jack” Robert Hughes leaves unifying legacy |

OBITUARY: John “Jack” Robert Hughes leaves unifying legacy

John “Jack” Robert Hughes was a man of many skills and many roles.

The longtime Nevada County resident was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a veteran of the Air Force, a Nevada Union Miner, an avid fisher, a story teller, a friend and a fan.

“He was probably the kindest, gentlest man I ever knew,” Hughes’ son John Hughes Jr. said. “Dad rarely had a bad thing to say about anybody. He had the ability to look past the flaws and see the good in everybody. He made friends instantly.”

Jack Hughes died Oct. 10 at the age of 82 after spending much of his life in the community he loved so much. His passing was felt not only by his family and those close to him, but also by the Nevada Union football family.

Jack, a fourth generation Nevada County resident, was a member of the first Nevada Union graduating class in 1953. He was a standout in football and basketball.

“He would talk about it often, not in a boasting manner, but with real pride that he was a part of the first graduating class at Nevada Union,” Hughes Jr. said. “That was a healing class. Before Nevada Union started, Grass Valley and Nevada City were fierce rivals. It was tough because they had played against each other for so many years and now they were all competing for spots on the same team.”

Jack took great pride in being part of that unifying class because that was the type of man he was.

“Dad left me with the feeling that the family has always been about unifying,” John Hughes Jr. said. “Looking beyond borders and being inclusive.”

Jack’s athletic ability was impressive and he would earn a starting role on both sides of the ball, playing defensive end and tight end for then coach Art Hooper. One of Jack’s claims to fame was he caught the very first touchdown in Nevada Union Miners history.

“He liked playing tight end, but his passion was defense,” his son said. “He would rather talk about the hits he had than the touchdowns he scored.”

Jack was also part of the class that chose Nevada Union’s colors and mascot.

“Dad was very proud of that,” said Hughes Jr. “Being a part of that kernel that started everything.”

Those early years as a member of the Nevada Union Miners sparked a lifetime love for the football program. The Hughes family has since seen four generations come through the program, including Jack’s great grandson who competes as a member of the Junior Miners program.

Jack’s love for sports continued throughout his life, rooting for his beloved San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants with great fervor. Jack’s passion for his community and school never wavered either.

Living off of Ridge Road, Jack had the opportunity to watch the high school he graduated from develop from the beginning.

“He took great pride in the this community and took great pride in watching that school grow and evolve,” Hughes Jr. said. “He watched that whole area develop. He took great pride in what the school became because he saw it at the beginning.”

For Jack, who worked in construction and logging until his retirement in 2004, fishing would become one of his favorite pastimes and ways to bond with his children, grandchildren and friends. While family and fishing became Jack’s primary focuses in life, he never lost touch with the Miners. Even this season, Jack could be found at many of his great grandson’s games and practices where he was always quick to point out a solid play or a showing of good sportsmanship.

In the end, Jack was a man that loved his family, loved his community and was proud to see what it became.

Jack is survived by his wife Yvonne; sons John (Meg), Kevin (Tina), and Eric (Denise); grandchildren Jeremy, Annie, Tahny, Sean, Billy, Michelle and Chelsey; and 10 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Tom. He was preceded in death by his parents; and by 10 of his 11 brothers and sisters.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User