A charismatic and highly regarded teacher who was a member of the University faculty from 1955 through 1994, Mr. Hughes specialized in 17th-century poetry. In addition to his three-year term as A&S dean, Mr. Hughes twice served as chairman of the English Department faculty, holding the position from 1955-61 and 1967-69.
"Dick Hughes will be remembered as a major figure in the history of Boston College," said Rattigan Professor Emeritus John Mahoney, a colleague and friend of Mr. Hughes since both joined the English Department faculty in the mid-1950s.
"He will be remembered as a legendary teacher at BC," Mahoney said. "He was a rigorous teacher, but he was dynamic and exciting in the classroom. He cared for his students in a very special way," Mahoney said. "He was always available to them.
"In turn, students flocked to his classes," Mahoney said.
"He was a model for me in my own teaching career."
The author of numerous books on poetry, biography, psychology, myth and literary theory, Mr. Hughes also made a successful foray into writing fiction. His first novel, Unholy Communion, won the 1982 Edgar Allen Poe Award as that year's best mystery publication.
Mahoney also said that Mr. Hughes had a "sharp eye for quality" as department chair and later as dean. "Dick recruited great faculty and made some stunning hires," during his administrative tenures, he recalled.
In 1995, the year following his retirement from teaching, Mr. Hughes was a recipient of the Boston College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, which honors excellence in undergraduate classroom teaching, thesis advancement and guidance on academic research projects.
"He succeeded with students at all levels, from introductory undergraduate courses to his graduate seminars, and in both English and Honors Program courses," said Assoc. Prof. Richard Tresch (Economics), the chapter president, in presenting the teaching award to Mr. Hughes.
Mr. Hughes was a native of Amsterdam, NY. He received his bachelor's degree from Siena College, his master's from Boston College and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught at the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University and the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands before joining the Boston College faculty.
He leaves his wife, Gertrude Hughes of Duxbury, a son, three daughters and eight grandchildren. He was buried in Duxbury's Mayflower Cemetery.
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