John Hughes, or Johnny to his Virginian friends and family, was a naturalist at heart. He was born on October 25, 1949 to parents Puller Alexander and Virginia Cashion Hughes. He passed away on July 13, 2020 at his home in Kennett Square, PA.
He believed in the importance of all life and the realities of compassionate care as related to the horses under his care and the wildlife on the lands he managed. He never put himself above anyone else; rather, he thought only of what he could do for others. He was proud of his family and friends and the land and animals he raised. Devotion to the principles of kindness and equality drove all of his actions every day of his life. He worked the land until his body couldn’t keep up with his will, and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
John graduated from Fauquier High School in Virginia and attended Old Dominion University before enlisting in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He honorably served in the Veterinary Corps and earned the title of Veterinary Specialist from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Division of Veterinary Medicine. Upon discharge John returned home to Virginia and continued his work with animals.
He began as a whip for the Warrenton Fox Hunt, continued showing at local horse events, and continued his devotion for animals as a worker in the horse racing industry. John Hughes lived, breathed, and spoke horses and the land. He spent the remainder of his 30+ year career as a farm manager of a broodmare barn in Unionville, PA. A trusted and dedicated worker John was relied on by the entire racing community. In 2003 he was awarded the first annual Plumsted Farm Races recognition award, and in 2006 he was awarded the Award Of Merit from the Woodville Steeplechase. Both awards recognized his excellence, dedication, and support of the horse racing industry from behind the scenes. If you were in the industry, you may not have met John, but you would be hard to find someone who didn’t know the name John Hughes or his horsemanship.
In addition to his work on the land and with the animals, John Hughes was dedicated to the community and the associations that supported his interests. John was a member of the PoMarLin Fire Company for 10 years and was a Wildland firefighter in the Pacific Northwest for two years as well as receiving a certification from the American School of Conservation for wildfire management. He was a member of The Livestock Conservancy, the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, the Tri-State Bird Rescue, the National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund.
Hardworking, devoted, good natured, kind, and deeply caring individuals like John Hughes are immediately remembered for their natural ability to make even a stranger feel welcomed, comfortable, and cared for. He not only listened to your problems but acted on solutions. He believed in the importance and the connection to animals, the land, the soul, and the spirit. All of this culminated into a gift to the world. The horse racing community, his friends, and his family were given the gift of his presence, and we are all better off for it.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Wendy Gray Hughes, his son of 35 years Brian Luttrell Hughes and his siblings Janet Zonn, Evelyn Martin, Betty McCue and Alex Hughes.
All services will be private.