- 85 years old
- Date of birth: Jan 5, 1930
- Place of birth:
Brooklyn, New York, United States
- Date of passing: Feb 9, 2015
- Place of passing:
San Francisco, California, United States
|Forever in our hearts. Contributions may be made to the Therese M. Hughes Family Scholarship Care of Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York. www.molloy.edu 516.323.4703|
A Tribute to Uncle Bill
Stephen Hughes, NYPD Deputy Chief
Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words about Uncle Bill. He was a son, husband, father, brother, friend, and my mentor.
When looking for a role model, you don’t have to look far from the Hughes family.
My earliest memory is of Grandpa, a distinguished Irishman, who was always impeccably dressed especially on the holidays. Christmas, Easter and the big one St. Patrick’s Day. A man who worked hard and always provided for his family.
Likewise, growing up I observed Uncle Bill, his brothers, his brother in-laws John, Carl and James. They all shared similar qualities; faith, love of family, great work ethic and a commitment to helping others. But I believe we have three standouts; Uncle Bill, my father and my brother Eddie. All three raised children with special needs.
I know as a father, one of the strongest roles is to be the Protector. Protect children from hurt, from illness and from sadness. Faced with these challenges many men may become bitter and powerless. However, Uncle Bill, my dad and Eddie rose up and met these challenges and provided the very best care and love for their children….
Their devotion is reflected in the beauty of Billy, Therese and Keith. My most vivid memories are the smiles and contentment they shared with each other.
Uncle Bill was my inspiration to become a NYC police officer. It goes back to when he invited my dad and me to the yearly New York City Police Department Holy Name Communion Breakfast. We marched from the Church to the reception hall. Start with your left foot, stop and stand here. I think I said to myself, “This is easy stuff. I probably could do this job”.
While attending St. John’s University, Uncle Bill called to tell me there was an opening at Belmont Race Track in the Security Department. He stated there were a lot of retired guys there and I might gain some experience or at least make a connection should I get on the job.
I was only there for a few weeks when I observed a man enter the turnstile armed with a gun. I pointed him out to the retired officers nearby who made the arrest. Turns out the guy was wanted for two homicides in NYC. I still remember Uncle Bill laughing with me later stating, “You did a great job, but I think the other guys are a little mad a rookie showed them up”.
I know Uncle Bill was extremely proud of me and I will always remember his smile that day.
This morning, I placed Uncle Bill’s police shield, the shield he received in 1956 when he joined the department, on his casket. An opportunity to wear it one last time ~ Shield #20245.
The shield itself is made of tin and probably only cost a few dollars to make. A little trivia: The shield is the only thing the Police Department gives you. All of your uniforms and equipment you purchase on your own. As a matter of fact even the large pin that holds the shield to your uniform you have to buy (2 cents in 1956 and 5 cents in 1981).
But once it was accepted by Uncle Bill, it became a symbol of his commitment to serve the citizens of New York. That commitment was for 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year.
The shield becomes your identity. It is who you are as a police officer. It is cherished and safeguarded until the moment you hand it back to the Department.
Since 1956, that same shield has been in the Hughes family, almost 60 years.
Uncle Bill, I, my brother Billy, Danielle and presently my son Stephen, who patrols the 115 Precinct in Jackson Heights Queens, are all connected by that shield.
Each of us accepted that duty; to hold up its honor and integrity.
A common phrase you hear in policing is “What’s your shield number?”
Our usual reply, “NYC Police Shield #20245”.
But since 1956 to present, I would like to share who is Shield #20245.
• Protected every President since Dwight D. Eisenhower who visited NYC.
• Patrolled the 1964 World’s Fair.
• Climbed various bridges and buildings to rescue emotionally disturbed persons.
• Protected Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II during visits in 1965 and 1995.
• Responded to Citywide riots after the assassination of MLK in 1968, the Crown Heights riots in 1991 and Washington Heights riots in 1992.
• Crowd control during the ticket tape parade of the Apollo 11; first man on the moon (35 years later this same shield met Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin).
• Aided and transported many members of this Department who were seriously sick or injured.
• Partnered with PO Joe Buono ESU (note: twenty years later this shield 20245’s nephew would marry Joe’s daughter).
• Policed New Year’s Eve, July 4th celebrations; Thanksgiving Day parades and numerous other special events throughout the decades.
• First responders to 9-11.
• First responder to US Airways Flight 1549 (Miracle on the Hudson).
• Patrolled the NYC Transit subway system.
• Conducted numerous warrant enforcement operations in the most dangerous city neighborhoods.
• Policed the 1969 and 1986 NY Mets ticket tape parades. (Too numerous to count the Yankee ticket tape parades and we won’t count them because we are Mets fans.)
• Fought the crack epidemic of the 1980’s.
• Effected hundreds of arrests from minor petty offense to violent offenders including murder and attempted murder of NYC Police Officers.
• Countless daily interactions with New Yorkers regarding accidents, complaints or just lonely individuals needing someone to talk too.
• Included in Shield #20245 are missed holidays, birthdays, dinners, school events, nights at home, stress, anxiety, and worry by family members for your safety.
In 1956, Uncle Bill started a Hughes legacy in New York City policing. It is my hope and prayer that this tradition continues with future generations.
Remembering his example of Faith, Commitment and Sacrifice.
Today, the New York City Police Department’s Ceremonial Unit was here to honor
Patrolman William F. Hughes, Shield #20245.
On behalf of the men and women of the Department Uncle Bill, “Thank you for your service”.
God bless you, your family and the NYPD.
Thank you for being here today to honor my Father and celebrate his life. It is a special blessing for our family to be surrounded by such admiration and respect for him at this time.
I loved being my Father’s daughter. He was my hero and one of the greatest men I have ever known and likely ever will. For 52 years he made me feel like I could walk on water simply because he was holding me up.
When asked to describe him, I have heard people say gentle giant, compassionate, kind, loving, loyal and hardworking.
Faith, family, country, community and service foremost come to my mind.
Summing up my Father’s life, I keep coming back to one thought. Never will we meet a greater man, who more faithfully lived his values.
I truly cherished the time I spent with him these past three years as I found myself discovering so many things I had not known before.
• His favorite childhood memory was going down to “Hughes Brothers” garage every Saturday with his father to feed the watchdogs and answer the back phone calls.
• Growing up in Forest Hills, he enjoyed playing marbles, cards, stoopball, basketball and baseball at Victory Fields, Forest Park, PS 101 and Wally’s backyard.
• He also loved the Metropolitan Avenue 4th of July parade and fondly remembers Police Office Jack Rugas, who always made sure he crossed the street safely, Joe Witt, Tommy Shine, Donald Becker, Joe Snopek, and Ralph Kistner, as well as family vacations at Rockaway Beach and traveling by boat to Ireland.
• His favorite store was Watts Ice Cream Parlor near the movie theater. (A chocolate malt was 25¢ and an ice cream cone was 10¢.) His favorite book was Tom Sawyer, his favorite dog was Tiny (a mix terrier), his favorite teacher was Father Frank Kenny, who taught Latin and Social Studies at Holy Trinity High School in Brooklyn, and his favorite prayer was the Three O’Clock Prayer.
• His best subject was Religion and he served as an alter boy at Our Lady of Mercy for many years.
• His first girlfriend was Lucille Tilip, who married his best friend Ted Henry and afterwards said, “I should have stayed with Bill.”
• He travelled to France and Germany while serving in the Army from April 5, 1951 until April 10, 1953 during the Korean War.
• He entered the Police Academy fifty-nine years ago on February 20, 1956 with Hughie Larkin, Jack Cawley, and Jerry Turner. (Hughie, Jack and Jerry are here today along with his other NYPD friends, Timmy Motto and Al Klages.)
• He married the love of his life on May 16, 1959 and lived at 101-20 Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn before moving to 358 Maryland Avenue in Massapequa Park to raise five children.
• He was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church and an active member of the Knights of Columbus in Seaford, where he enjoyed playing shuffleboard.
• He believed most problems could be resolved over a cup of hot tea and a slice of warm Irish Soda Bread. (A wee bit of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey in the tea helped with life’s tougher problems.)
• He cherished his family.
My Father was strong in body, spirit and commitment. He never missed a single day of class from kindergarten through high school graduation and his perfect attendance award is one of the honors he remembers receiving as a child.
My Father was loyal. His faithfulness to the important people in his life could be seen in the way he steadfastly maintained close ties with his family and friends. He taught us to remember our roots. He extended himself to so many and formed deep friendships that lasted a lifetime.
My Father never let another man down. He fulfilled every obligation he ever undertook. His word was his bond and everyone knew it. There were so many acts of kindness and times that he "saved the day" for people and would never tell them or take credit. He was always looking for ways to help others.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my Father was the value of hard work. He woke up everyday, put on his shoes and went to work to provide for our family. (Even if he did not feel well, he still got up and went to work.)
He sincerely believed if you worked hard and treated others as you wanted to be treated, you would have a good life.
He told us to find something we loved to do, make a living doing it, and then pay it forward by lending our time and talent in service to others.
His deep and abiding love for God and family, as well as his steady commitment to community and country, were constant, visible examples of what it means to be a “good man”.
My Father was loved and respected by everyone who met him.
He had a rich life, a giving life and a life that I admired even to his last breath.
Thank you, Dad, for being the most incredible Father a daughter could have.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and guidance as well as inspiring so many by living a life of faithfulness to the Lord and our family.
Thank you for making me want to make the world a better place and for showing me a path to do so.
Thank you for making sure that I have known I was loved every day of my life.
You say you were blessed to have us in your life, but for one last time Dad, I respectfully disagree.
We were the blessed ones.
"Especially thinking of Uncle Bill today , always in our hearts"
"What a beautiful tribute to a very special and loved patriarch. Our love and prayers continue to be with you and your family.
Love, Doug, Cindy and Family"
"Thank you for sharing your father's wonderful life! He seems like a truly special man. We continue to think of you, your father and your family.
Sending lots of love,
Keith, Kelly & Olivia Kirk"
What beautiful memories and tributes to a Life well lived. We send you and your family our love and sympathy.
Vicki and Joe"
"Thank you for sharing the beautiful stories, photographs and loving tributes .... we will always cherish the special memories we carry in our hearts of Uncle Bill. Our love and prayers are with all the family. xoxoxo love, Kerri and Gene Fedele"
"Can't believe it has already been one month since you were called home miss you every day"
"A most beautiful true "human being" if there ever was one !
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