The Scouting Career of
AUSTIN J. (JOE) HUGHES, JR.
Mr. Hughes was born on March 24, 1908 in Snyder, Oklahoma. His scouting career began right there in his home town. He became a Tenderfoot Scout in 1930 and later achieved Second Class rank. The family then moved to Pryor, Oklahoma where a troop had not yet been established.
Joe served as an adult volunteer in the Council at Neodesha, Kansas. In 1947, he moved his family to Wichita Falls, Texas where his son Jim became a Cub Scout in Pack 4. Pack 4 was sponsored by First Christian Church located on the corner of Travis and Tenth Streets. Joe served on the Pack committee there, as well.
When Jim graduated from cubs in 1949 due to the change of membership age, he joined Troop One at Floral Heights Methodist Church. At that point, Joe really got involved. He served on the Troop One Committee in 1951. When Jim had his Eagle Scout Board of Review in 1952, Joe was there. He was overcome with emotion. This propelled him to become a full-time member of Judge Temple Shell’s Eagle Board of Review in 1953. He became its Chairman a few years later. Joe also served as District Chairman of the Wichita District in 1955 and 1956. He has served on the Council’s Executive Board in several capacities ever since. He was the Council’s representative to the 1955 National Meeting. He has been registered as a Troop Committeeman from 1951 through 1996 and served as its Chairman from 1962 to 1973.
Joe and his Eagle Scout son, Jim, became the Council’s first Silver Beaver father-son team. Joe was honored in 1961 and Jim in 1969. Joe and both of his Eagle Scout sons, Jim and Don, are Vigil Honor members of the Order of the Arrow.
Joe also chaired YMCA Kid baseball for two years, served on the Board of the Arthritis Foundation, and was a member of the Rotary Club for forty years. He served his church on the official Board for over forty years and was President of the Merle Anthony Bible Class of over 100 members. His wife, Wilma, served as a Den Mother when both boys were Cubs.
Over a thirty year period, Joe presided over more than 1,400 Eagle Boards of Review, becoming known as “Mr. Eagle”. So impressive and dignified was the Eagle presentation ceremony he developed that he was invited to conduct Eagle ceremonies at more than 1,200 Eagle Courts-of-Honor all over the Council, including those of his three grandsons. He has made the ceremony a truly meaningful and unforgettable occasion for all those scouts. Joe was recognized with a special council plaque in 1976 for his service.
Joe and son, Jim, were honored by Floral Heights United Methodist Church on May 22, 1992 with the “God and Service Recognition” for their time and talents to youth of the church.
Joe has been recognized by the Northwest Texas Council for his contributions to Scouting by being a James E. West Fellow, a member of the Heritage Society, and a member of the 1910 Society (Ernest Thompson Seton level).
Joe has also initiated an Eagle Book for the Council showing Eagle Scouts by name, unit, and year. Joe hand-lettered each entry in Old English script from 1945 until 1994. Mr. Hughes passed away on December 31, 1995.