August 19, 2023

By Arthur H. Gunther III

From time to time but never often enough, there come among us in a world of ego, greed, power, selfishness, those extraordinary individuals who give from the core of their being because their principal god is the goodness of humanity. Such a person was Bert Hughes.

     This fellow, a musician almost from birth, a jazz guy with all the impromptu and irreverence that are a counter-beat to those who hear only their song, died recently as a longtime Nyacker whose good works went way beyond the expected.

     Yes, he was, with Ray Wright, the Nyack, N.Y., Realtor, the founder of the now-cherished summer jazz series at the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center in the Hudson River village. Yes, with his wife Chris Bert long served and helped direct the food program for all comers in Spring Valley, N.Y. Yes, he served on councils that sought affordable housing. Yes, he assisted in the renovation of Memorial Park in Nyack. Yes, he was a teacher of music.

     All these things in a full life still hellbent on racing the treadmill.

     But Bert was way beyond the giving, the compassion, the utter refusal to deny help to anyone. He was a fountain of goodness that all were welcome to drink at. He sipped little himself, nor did wife Chris. Both saw their mission as a human one: to help where they could.

     Tributes from many will follow for Bert Hughes, well-deserved, which would have been quickly put aside by him as he focused on  the next person in need.

     To be friends with Bert was to don the cloak of humility. It would be difficult to top him.

     Riches, power, possessions pass to others. Reputation does not. Bert earned his as birthright from destiny. Thank you, sir.

The writer is a retired newspaperman.