Celebrating Black History Month: Mr. Willie Hughey

Willie Hughey
Posted On: Thursday, February 11, 2021

                                             Willie Hughey

Drafted in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, attending Army basic training in Arkansas, and missing the birth of his first-born child, he proudly served his country as a soldier in the United States Army. Today, he proudly serves as the first and only African-American member of the Jefferson City Board of Education.  In today’s edition, we are honored to feature Vice-Chairman of the Board of Education, Mr. Willie Hughey.

Mr. Hughey is a native Jeffersonian born the second of seven children to the late Reverend and Mrs. V.S. Hughey.  He began his early education in what was known as primer school, which he attended through third grade, in a building then located on Lawrenceville Street in Jefferson.  In 1948, during his fourth-grade year, Bryan Elementary and High Schools were built. Mr. Hughey recalls that he and the other black students were escorted by police as they walked from Lawrenceville Street to their new school, located on Gordon Street, where he later graduated. While a student at Bryan Elementary and High, two of his teachers, Mrs. Evelyn Wright, and Mrs. Sue Rucker, fostered his love for government and current events. Every day, he and other students were required to present a current event in class.  Even today, he says, “I look for and listen to the news before anything else on television.”

Shortly after basic training, Mr. Hughey was chosen to attend Army medical training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He played a key role in the military, serving his country in the Army Medical Corp, the first line of medical care for sick and injured soldiers. During his military career, Mr. Hughey served a tour of duty in Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia, and two years in Germany. In 1968, Mr. Hughey was honorably discharged from the United States Army after serving active duty for six years and three months. After leaving the Army, Mr. Hughey worked for the U.S. Post Office, retiring in 1992 after 30 years of service.

Though Mr. Hughey trained for and obtained employment working for the U.S. Post Office after serving in the Army, his dedication to the military and to serving his country would not truly end in 1968.  In 1975, he joined the Army National Guard where he continued to serve for twenty years, retiring in 1995.  "The military," he says, "gets in your blood. It never leaves you. Serving is both challenging and rewarding.” The most challenging piece for him was having to be away from his family for long periods of time.

While serving his country was certainly a rewarding experience, Mr. Hughey is honored to have been appointed to and served as chairman of the Jackson County Library Board, the Piedmont Library Board, and the Jackson County Tax Equalization Board. However, Mr. Hughey notes his appointment and later election to the Jefferson City Board of Education has been the most rewarding. His service on the school board brings him joy. Mr. Hughey’s passion and love for this system and this community are undeniable.  He gets excited when talking about Jefferson City Schools and the many honors and accomplishments made year after year. He loves that JCS continues to be a top-ranking system in the state of Georgia.

He is especially proud to see the success of students from Bryan Schools and Jefferson High. “I am happy to see them do good things and serve the community in which they live, especially this community.” His hope is to one day have those students gather in a forum to talk about the importance of education, serving your community, and being successful.  “Find your place in life. Find what you can do and what you are comfortable doing, then do your best.” This is sound advice offered to students by Mr. Hughey. “Success,” he says, “does not come overnight.” 

In June, Mr. Hughey and his wife, Annie, will have been married for sixty years.  They are parents to three children, Audrey, his oldest daughter who passed away in 2016, Alfredo, and Erica, all of whom are graduates of Jefferson City Schools and successful in their chosen careers. In addition, they are proud grandparents to Eric, Matthew, Tiffany, and Austin. When he is not serving his community or offering great advice and wisdom to young people, Mr. Hughey spends some of his spare time rebuilding cars. He is most proud of the 1966 Mustang that he rebuilt for his oldest daughter for her sixteenth birthday.  This car would eventually be handed down to his other children.

In speaking with Mr. Hughey, it is evident that he does not profit by giving nor receiving any negativity. One quickly learns that he is a positive person who loves his family, always finds the best in people, and loves serving his community. Mr. Ronnie Hopkins, Chairman of the Jefferson City Board of Education, states, “Willie is a tremendous board member and a pleasure to work with. He always does what he feels is right for the people in his district and the entire Jefferson community at large.” These comments from Mr. Hopkins are quite befitting as Mr. Hughey’s motto is a quote he paraphrases from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Always do the right thing, not the most popular thing.”  

During Black History Month, while we pause to honor the many contributions made by African-Americans who have served and continue to serve our country, our celebration continues as we salute Mr. Willie Hughey for his service to our country, our school system, and our community.













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