Inspired by the teachers who shaped his character and fueled by a rewarding life as a husband, father, friend, and businessman, Joseph V. Hughes, Jr. ’71 has expressed his devotion to Jesuit through decades of nearly unparalleled support. For over 40 years, Hughes helped guide the growth of the School with a sparkling record of service and benevolence that has literally transformed the space in which our students learn. The recipient of the 2015 Jesuit Dallas Distinguished Alumnus Award, his extraordinary spiritual and civic leadership has created a legacy modeled as a Man for Others.
Born and raised from humble beginnings in Dallas, Hughes was Catholic educated for most of his life. His parents instilled in him the importance of sacrifice and servitude, qualities that were reflected in their willingness to use commissions from side jobs so that their son would have the opportunity to attend Jesuit. Active in the naturalist society and camera club, teachers Bob Lanier and Don Dorsey were big influences during his years in formation at Jesuit, while Jack Eiffert, who he had done with so many others, taught him how to drive.
“The fire that the teachers struck under us, and the chances they gave the students to experiment and expand boundaries was so inspiring,” said Hughes. “My heart will always be with Jesuit, and that feeling starts with the spirit that is nurtured by the faculty and the bonds the students feel in creating a brotherhood.”
Following graduation, Hughes attended Texas A&M University where he eventually earned a degree in accounting. Hampered by jobs that helped pave his way through high school, Hughes regrets not being more active as a Jesuit student, and made it a point to get heavily involved at A&M. Selected as the only freshman yell leader not in the Corps of Cadets in addition to a defining role in the creation of The Diamond Darlings, Hughes quickly immersed himself into the campus culture. After his sophomore year, Hughes was elected as the first civilian yell leader in the history of Texas A&M, the official spirit organization of the University.
Pragmatic in his approach to education, Hughes scaled back his involvement in extracurriculars as a senior, choosing instead to sprint to the finish line academically in order to land an opportunity with an accounting firm in his home city of Dallas. He ended up in the audit department at Touche Ross & Company, which proved to be phenomenal training ground for his business education and gave him the first inside look at a constant area of professional interest – the oil & gas industry.
Hughes left Touche Ross in 1980 to start his own certified public accounting firm, but maintained considerable interest in the oil & gas business. Through his practice, he often met with clients who lamented the difficulty in selling small oil & gas properties. Armed with his accounting background, and an exposure and understanding of royalties, Hughes began buying and selling small properties, deducing that over time the investments could create sizable profits. The vehicle for that initiative, which initially started in 1982, became Spindletop Exploration, Inc., a company that he has owned and operated for nearly 30 years.
Hughes’ servant experience at Jesuit started in the late 1970s as a member of the alumni advisory committee. In 1982, he was named president of the Alumni Board.
“I had great guides in Jan Collmer ‘52, Edo Biasatti ’49, William D. Cox ’52, and our moderator, Fr. Rivoire, who all took me under their wing. It was a great experience to build something for our alumni. These were simple affairs, but we were always concerned with creating scholarships and mechanisms that provided tuition relief to students in need.”
Hughes began his first stint on the Jesuit College Preparatory School Board of Trustees in 1988, a role he reprised several times over the course of four decades, and one which totaled nearly 15 years of service. In 2013, he was named to the Jesuit Foundation Board of Trustees where he currently serves on both the audit and investment committees.
Joe, and his wife Holly, have been guided by the importance of giving, and the philanthropic sense to support the causes they care about. There is a special place in their hearts for Jesuit, and that has been demonstrated through a generous and sustained spirit of giving to the School. A long time donor to the alumni annual fund and a distinguished benefactor to the We Are Jesuit capital campaign, the family’s namesake adorns Hughes Hall, one of the most prominent and recognizable spaces on the Jesuit campus. In 2014, they started The Joseph V. Hughes, Jr. ’71 and Holly O. Hughes Fund for faculty enrichment and financial aid.
“It’s been a good life, and we have a lot more we want to do,” added Hughes. “The how and why we support Jesuit is a decades-long story, but it’s an outstanding cause. The impact that our support and service has on the students, their civic mindedness, as well as their academic excellence is deeply fulfilling.”
On Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8:45 a.m. in the Terry Center, Hughes will be presented with the award at the annual Distinguished Alumni Prayer Service before addressing the Jesuit Dallas student body.