Tuesday, May 28, 2002


Writer ‘knew just about
everyone’ on Big Isle

More obituaries

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

It was Maxine Hughes' genuine curiosity for people that made her among the best-known and endeared Big Island journalists of the 20th century.

Hughes, 85, died last week in Waimea. A service will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hilo Yacht Club.

"She knew just about everyone in town, and she got along with everyone," said Gene Tao, former editor of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, where Hughes worked for 34 years.

Hughes was a reporter best known for her in-depth profiles on Big Island newsmakers. She was also known as the Tribune-Herald's society editor in a day when newspapers had society editors.

She covered weddings and anniversaries, Tao said, at a time when "each marriage and anniversary announcement was very carefully written about, from what the bride wore to the notables who were there."

Daughter Maggie Woods said her mother "loved a good party."

Hughes' job "was a natural place for her to put her energy because she was very interested in what made people tick, their stories and their backgrounds."

Hughes was born in Corsicana, Texas. She and husband John "Jack" Hughes moved to Kauai in 1940 where he managed Territorial Motors. Four years later, the couple moved to Hilo.

Before working for the Tribune-Herald, Hughes was with KHBC, the Hilo affiliate of KGMB radio.

Hughes was a founding member of the Big Island Press Club and was a key contributor to the organization's annual "Imu" event, which raised funds for journalism scholarships.

Longtime Big Island newsman and public relations specialist Walt Southward said Hughes took him under her fold when he arrived in the Tribune-Herald newsroom from the mainland in the late 1950s.

"She knew an awful lot about the Big Island and had no hesitancy to share it with others," Southward said.

Hughes is survived by sons Jack Jr. and Harold, daughter Maggie Woods, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The family requests aloha attire at Saturday's services. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in Hughes' memory to the Salvation Army or the American Heart Association.

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