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Joe Leon Hughes, 93, of Ware Shoals and husband of the late Juanita Taylor Hughes, passed away Friday, December 16, 2022, at the Hospice and Palliative Care of the Piedmont Hospice House in Greenwood.
Born in Donalds, he was a son of the late Maynor Carlton and Elsie Burton Hughes. Mr. Hughes attended Clemson College and was a former employee of Riegel Textiles and later retired from 3M. He also held a newspaper route and sold insurance with Nationwide Insurance Company for many years. Leon was a former member of Second Baptist Church in Laurens, and currently a member of Poplar Springs Baptist Church. He formerly served as Deacon and Sunday School Teacher at both churches. He was a volunteer firefighter with Western Laurens County Fire Department and was instrumental in helping establish the fire station. In addition to volunteering as firefighter, he and his wife were volunteers with the Ware Shoals School District’s Release Program and they also partnered with Connie Maxwell Children’s Home by opening up their home to help with children and youth. He was also a past member of the Wattsville Lion’s Club and the Gideons.
He is survived by: his children, Toni Hughes Arsenault of Ware Shoals, Joel Hughes of Ware Shoals, and Sherree Hughes Wills (Mike) of Greenwood; grandchildren, Steve Arsenault (Marti), Susan Smith (Donnie), Shannon Burgoyne (Robert), Matthew Hughes (Heather), Joshua Wills (Heather), Lisa Wright (Steven), and Kelly Advani (Aman); sixteen great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
In addition to his wife and parents, he was predeceased by a daughter, Susan Carol Hughes, son-in-law, Leo Arsenault, and two brothers, Fred and Ralph Hughes.
The family will receive friends at Poplar Springs Baptist Church from 1:00 to 2:00 pm on Wednesday, December 21, 2022.
Funeral services will follow at 2:00 pm in the church conducted by Dr. Daniel Settle, Rev. Alex D. Henderson and Rev. Todd Horton with burial in Greenwood Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made to Poplar Springs Baptist Church, P.O. Box 124, Ware Shoals, SC 29692-0124or to Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church, 499 Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church, Laurens, SC 29360.
A Life well lived from a grandson and a daughter
What is a hero? The dictionary defines it as "a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities." I can't think of a better definition of a man who served with noble qualities as the: patriarch, quiet leader, prayerful Christian, humble soul, gentle father, giving grandfather, working farmer, servant firefighter, loving husband, and most of all, one of my heroes. You were a shining example of a man of high character. You undoubtedly had a big hand in molding me into the person I am today. We spent our summers together from dawn till dusk. You made me pick beans, and I always complained about my back hurting. You told me repeatedly that "I was too young to have a back." You picked me up from school almost daily, and Grandma had a plate of food waiting for me when I got to your house. To say you spoiled me is an extreme understatement. You played ball with me even though you were in your mid to late sixties. You pitched and chased baseballs in the scorching heat and freezing cold. I didn't understand how precious those moments were and the sacrifice you made to devote that kind of attention to me. I learned so much about life and the treatment of others just by watching you. Your words were few, but your actions were mighty in my eyes. You prayed for every member of our family every night. There were times that I walked into your house, and you were praising God in worship, and you never even knew I was there. I saw that! What other example is there!? I enjoyed our Tuesday evening meals when my dad got off work. It was always entertaining to hear Grandma yelling your name and blaming you for everything she couldn't find in the kitchen. My first thought was that Grandma met you at the gates and said, "Leon! Where have you been!?! I have been up here all this time just waiting on you!" He shook his head, smiled at her, and kissed his "honey." I'm sure Grandma had baby Susan in her arms, and you held her tightly together. You hugged your brothers and kissed your mom and dad. What a day for rejoicing! You are restored, and your work on this earth has paid off. You didn't know why God kept you here for so long, but I can confidently say that he gave you to our family as a blessing and an example to show what Godly stewardship means. It's our job to carry that on, and I am grateful for the blessings and many fond memories you gave me. There is a selfish sadness that you are gone, but the rejoicing in our blessings far outweighs that sadness. It was time, and you went home peacefully. I can sleep easy at night knowing that our last interaction was tucking you into bed and hugging you and saying, "I love you, Grandpa," and you replied, "I love you!"
Dad's early family life started with his parents working at Riegel Textile Mill. Farm life in Donalds, SC, followed work in the mill, where work began before daylight and ended when the sun went down. Daddy often told about Sunday dinners at his grandfather's house. It was customary to eat last as a child (hoping there would be some meat left). Daddy mentioned that he never knew there were good parts of the chicken until he got older since the kids always got the scraps. Much like our family still does today at Sunday lunches, Daddy spoke about how playing with his cousins after Sunday meals were the best.
While we were young, Dad simultaneously worked full-time and part-time jobs due to medical expenses. He would deliver newspapers in the early morning hours before going to his primary job; however, he often had an unwelcome helper named Skipper. Skipper, our dog, followed Dad and retrieved our neighbor's newspapers after Dad had delivered them. Skipper was so proud to have the newspapers waiting on our porch when Dad got home from work. Daddy was not so happy.
We moved to Laurens in 1960, where Dad worked at 3M. We bought the farm in Ware Shoals, SC, in 1967. The cleanup was way beyond expectations. The workload was heavy, but we often got by laughing at the many stories that took place. While they weren't funny at the time, looking back at them, we were able to laugh together. We had a tractor that was broken more than it wasn't and a cow that would not feed its calf resulting in bottle feeding and giving it regular enemas. I remember the day we broke a window on the day it had already been replaced. There are more stories like those mentioned above, but we always found a way to smile and make the best of the circumstances.
Dad and Mom were entirely devoted to God, family, church, and others. Their prayers sustained all family members creating a unit that is still close and one that loves and serves God. Not many people are so blessed.
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