Students, faculty and staff from the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) gathered at the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel Jan. 16, to remember retired Vice Adm. Thomas Hughes, an NPS Distinguished Alumnus who once served as the Conrad Chair for Financial Management, a Distinguished Visiting Professor, and Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy.
Hughes, who passed away Jan. 13 from a short illness, began his naval career at the close of World War II and served in the Navy for more than 43 years. While at sea, he commanded destroyers, cargo ships, destroyer squadrons and service squadrons, and was a gunline commander during the Vietnam War. Ashore, Hughes served as the Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Financial Management Information; Deputy and Director, Budget and Reports in the Office of the Navy Comptroller; Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel and Training); and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics).
After he retired from active duty service in 1987, Hughes served as the President and CEO for the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), tripling the organization's assets during his time.
Hughes graduated from NPS in 1962 with a master's degree in Operations Analysis and returned in 2002 to join the school's faculty and administration. On Memorial Day 2007, Hughes was given an NPS Distinguished Alumnus Award for his notable professional achievements and significant contributions to the Navy.
At the memorial service, friends and colleagues shared fond memories of Hughes, describing him as a patriot who was revered by all.
Air Force Col. David Smarsh, the NPS Chief of Staff, remembered Hughes as someone who was truly dedicated to the school and his students. "I would be willing to follow him into battle any day," Smarsh said.
NPS President Dan Oliver, who first met Hughes while serving at the Pentagon in 1983, said he was a "tremendously wonderful man" who was a figure of dignity, integrity and persistence. Hughes treated everyone with the same respect and was a constant for integrity, Oliver added.
After receiving news of Hughes' passing, Oliver said Cutler Dawson, the President and CEO of NFCU, spoke to him about the significant impact Hughes had on the organization. "Tom Hughes' contributions to Navy Federal as a leader and a visionary built the strong foundation that members enjoy today," Dawson said. "He really valued the overall service to our members and always had the individual Sailor and Marine's best interest at heart."