Harry R Hughes death: Former Governor is dead at the age of 92.
Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed Hughes’ passing in a statement released this afternoon. Hughes served two terms from 1979 to 1987.
“The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Governor Harry Hughes, a longtime friend and Maryland legend whom I deeply admired. His dedication to our great state – as a distinguished member of the Maryland General Assembly and as our 57th governor – and his service to our nation as a member of the Navy Air Corps during World War II leave a legacy behind that will be forever remembered,” Hogan said.
“Our most sincere prayers are with his two daughters, Ann and Elizabeth, his family, friends, and loved ones in this time of grieving. We will give him the celebration of life that he truly deserves.”
According to the Maryland State Archives, Hughes was born in Easton and grew up in Denton. He attended Mercersberg Academy in Pennsylvania and Mount St. Mary’s College.
During World War II, Hughes enlisted with the U.S. Navy Air Corps and later entered the University of Maryland where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949. He received his law degree from George Washington University School of Law in 1952.
As governor, he succeeded the scandal-plagued administration of Marvin Mandel. As governor, he advocated for the Chesapeake Bay.
“He was a great leader and people should remember him as being the environmental leader that he was, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, protecting the environment. Just a truly great courageous leader who we will remember very fondly,” Senate President Mike Miller said.
After stints in the House of Delegates and state Senate, he rose to become the state’s first secretary of transportation in 1971, overseeing the acquisition of what would become Baltimore-Washington International Airport as well as establishing Baltimore’s subway system. He subsequently resigned over the award of a construction contract for the Baltimore subway.
Hughes, with then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer and other area officials, unsuccessfully lobbied Robert Irsay to keep the Colts in Baltimore. Hours after the football team spirited away to Indianapolis, Hughes signed a bill allowing the team’s seizure via eminent domain. A federal court rejected Baltimore’s subsequent eminent domain suit, ruling that since the franchise had already moved out of the state, the city had no right under state law to seize it.
After leaving office, he served as a member of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and other committees.
In 2005. Hughes lobbied lawmakers to create a fund for stem cell research.
Susan O’Brien, currently communications director of Maryland Cmptroller Peter Franchot, worked with Hughes with the group Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research. O’Brien said Hughes brought integrity and gravitas to the stem cell debate.
O’Brien called the debate personal for Hughes whose wife Patricia suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. Patricia Hughes died in 2010.
Hughes is survived by two daughters.
Hogan ordered state flags to fly at half-staff until sunset of the day of Hughes’ burial.