Right before Jim died, his neighbors wanted him to know just how much he had meant to them. So, as Jim spent his last days in his Vienna home under heavy medication, the Wexford Homeowners' Community Association presented him with a resolution honoring his contributions as past president and treasurer of the association.
"Jim's a nice guy, a very likable guy. Very dedicated to the community," said association president Phil Kenny. "Really, he did a lot of work tirelessly, and a lot of work thanklessly. He really put a lot of work in our community."
Yet, the resolution hasn't been the only action that his friends have taken to recognize Jim's contributions to the Vienna community. Even though James B. "Jim" Hughes may have died from cancer over a year ago, his family and friends in the 45-home neighborhood recently honored his commitment by dedicating their neighborhood park to him during their annual Wexford Day picnic, which took place on Memorial Day weekend.
"I was so touched, and felt it was a well-deserved honor and tribute," said Hughes' wife, Ann.
Hughes, 62, died April 23, 2002 from cancer. A sales manager with Cox Communications until his death, Hughes worked in the broadcasting and advertising business for his entire career.
In Vienna, not only did he serve in his civic association, but he was an active member of the American Legion. He volunteered for the ViVa Vienna festivities as a graphic artist and was a member of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church.
Friends remember Hughes' talent as an artist, as well as his kindness and sense of humor. Hughes liked to paint fishermen, wildlife, train stations and Civil War scenes. Former Vienna Inn owner Mike Abraham commissioned Hughes to paint a portrait of the neighborhood hangout.
"He's a loss to the community because he was ready to help anybody," said Mark Knolls, Hughes' neighbor of over 20 years.
Fellow longtime neighbor Betty Hagen agreed.
"I just think we all admired him for strength and resolve throughout that whole ordeal," said Hagen of Hughes' cancer battle.
Because of Hughes' qualities and contributions to the community, neighbors thought the best way to honor the man in charge of bringing the kegs of beer to the annual Wexford picnic was to name one of their neighborhood parks after him. Hughes' neighbors Tom and Bonnie Sanfacon donated the limestone and the plaque, and Libby Harkins is in charge of planting the garden surrounding the memorial.
"Everybody said, my goodness, what a wonderful idea. The community just rallied around," said Knolls, who had driven around with Tom Sanfacon to find the appropriate stone.
Ann Hughes said naming the park after her late husband isn't just a testament to her husband, but to the community they live in as well.
"To live in a lovely little enclave like this ... we feel very fortunate to live in such a wonderful community," Ann Hughes said.