Former Drew County Judge Dale Lamar Hughes died Tuesday. He was 78.
A retired Lt. Col. in the U.S. Air Force, Hughes was a combat pilot in Southeast Asia, flying 296 combat missions in a F-100 fighter/bomber. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Vietnamese Civic Action Honor Medal, first Class. He retired after 22 years of military service.
Hughes was instrumental in the development of the veterans memorial on the Drew County Courthouse lawn. At a 2008 ceremony, 20 years after the memorial was completed, Hughes credited its development to others. That was in his character — to give all the credit to others — but it was he who worked tirelessly, along with his wife Betty, to see that the memorial was built.
A 1952 graduate of Monticello High School, Hughes attended Monticello A & M for two years, Florida State for two years and graduated from the University of Nebraska in Omaha in 1974 with a degree in history.
The three years immediately preceding his retirement from the military in May 1977, he served as executive officer for the commander of the 832nd Air Division and as deputy base commander at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, NM. He was commissioned through the Aviation Cadet Program in December 1956, after completing pilot training at Bainbridge AFB in Georgia and Bryan AFB in Texas.
As a combat-ready F-100 fighter pilot and later as a forward air controller, he flew 296 combat missions in Southeast Asia. In addition to state side assignments, he served tours of duty in Turkey, England, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Panama Canal Zone.
When he returned to Monticello in 1977, he served as manager of the Monticello Pink Tomato Growers Association. He also served as Drew County Judge for 9 ½ years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, JA and Jewell Herring Hughes, and grandparents, John Morgan and Eva Sawyer Hughes and Jap and Lottie Herring, all of Drew County.
He is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, Betty Allison Hughes of Monticello; three children, Robert D. Hughes of Georgetown, Texas; Jay L. Hughes and R. Chris Hughes Pace, both of Monticello; one sister, Barbara Fleming of Pine Bluff; six grandsons, two granddaughters, one step-grandson, six great-grandchildren, two nephews, four nieces, and many more extended relatives and friends.
Visitation is Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home on U.S. 425 North in Monticello. The funeral service will be Friday at 5 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial with military honors will be at Campground Cemetery on Campground Road in Drew County.