John Hughes was Troop 25 Scoutmaster for 47 years and a former public defender in Bayonne’s municipal court. He also served as Commissioner of the Northern New Jersey Boy Scout Council, the highest-ranking uniformed Scouting volunteer in the region; was the recipient of the Northern New Jersey Boy Scout Council’s Distinguished Citizen Award; and the Newark Archdiocesan Golden Jubilee Medal. He also sat on the board of Bayonne Community Bank, was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and a trustee of St. Vincent’s Church. He also coached the Hudson United Soccer Club.
When he passed away on Oct. 19 at the age of 71, he left a legacy of love, loyalty, and respect.
“I hope that John Hughes’s well-lived life will inspire others to volunteer to help our community, whether in Scouting or other service organizations,” said Mayor James Davis. “He represented the best Bayonne had to offer.”
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalotti, who described Hughes as a “mentor and a friend,” said Hughes assumed that role with many junior attorneys, including Chiaravalloti himself.
“I doubt he fully understood how important he was to so many people,” Chiaravalloti said. “That was not his nature. John may not have grabbed headlines, but he was a part of the foundation that makes Bayonne such an incredible community.”
A master of scouting
Hughes became a Cub Scout at the age of eight at the Central YMCA on 33rd Street, under a World War I veteran cub master. When a new troop started at the Knights of Columbus when Hughes was 11, he joined right away, eventually rising to the rank of Eagle Scout.
Hughes has credited scouting with skills he said were crucial to his success.
“Scouting teaches young boys the rules of life,” said Hughes in a 2010 interview with the Hudson Reporter. Leadership, teamwork, and focus are key. “In this troop, kids run things. They elect their own leaders and they learn to cooperate to get things done.”
A Seton Hall Law School and University of Notre Dame graduate, Hughes started his career with the Bayonne Law Department in 1967 before going on to work as a Clerk for the Superior Court from 1970 to 1972, a Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor from 1972 to 1974, a Special Deputy for the Attorney General in 1974, and a public defender for the City of Bayonne. He had a private practice, Hughes & Finnerty, in Bayonne for decades.
Both in law and in scouts, Hughes was known for his support of Bayonne’s youth. In Bayonne, he worked in the juvenile court system and even defended Kenny Brit, an NFL player and Bayonne High School hall-of-famer, in a reckless driving case.
In 1970, he took a temporary scoutmaster job at the St. Vincent de Paul Boy Scout Troop 25 while the church searched for a replacement for the former scoutmaster. He turned out to be that replacement and received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 2004.
Former Troop 25 scouts include former Bayonne fire chiefs and a mayor (Leonard Kiczek). “This is a good program with good kids and a community that supports it,” Hughes said of Troop 25 in 2005. “We need community support to do what we do.”
Hughes’s funeral mass was held on Wednesday, October 25 at 10 a.m. at Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church at 979 Avenue C. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that attendees make donations to either the Bayonne Scout Endowment or the John Theurer Cancer Center.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.