Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Big Isle newswoman Maxine Hughes dies at 85

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — Maxine Hughes, a Big Island radio and newspaper figure for nearly a half-century, died Wednesday at her son's home in Waimea where she was recovering from an illness. She was 85.

Hughes was known for her long essays, profiling personalities from educators to community leaders and social figures.

She was the last women's editor at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald before the focus changed to in-depth interview features. She also edited Orchid Island magazine for several years when it was the newspaper's Sunday tabloid for features and travel before it became a weekend television section.

Hughes, noted for her wide contacts in post-World War II Hawai'i, was close friends with the late Richard Smart of Parker Ranch, rancher Anna Perry-Fiske and politician-businessman W.H. "Doc" Hill.

Hughes personally collaborated with Perry-Fiske in establishing the "Old Hawaii on Horseback" — a historic pageant that was then the nation's biggest fund-raiser for the American Heart Association.

Hughes moved to Kaua'i with her late husband, Jack, from their native Texas just before World War II. They moved to Hilo in the early1940s. Hughes worked at KHBC, the town's only radio station at the time, and later went to work for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

For years the Hughes were considered a volunteer family center for visitors, always eager to show off their adopted island. Her husband died in 1979 after a long illness.

Hughes was a founding member of the Big Island Press Club and gave hundreds of volunteer hours over 35 years.

Her daughter, Margaret Woods of Colorado, who was with her mother when she died, described her as a person who reached into everyone's heart. "She cared about everyone. She always wanted to know what was beneath the surface," be it an interview with a VIP or getting to know her grandchildren, Woods said.

In addition to Woods, Hughes is survived by sons, Jack Jr., a schoolteacher and former Hilo radio personality now living in Washington state, and banking executive Harold Hughes of West Hawai'i; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were pending yesterday at Borthwick Hawaii Mortuary in Hilo.