Longtime Cowichan community advocate Richard Hughes died on April 22, 2022. Pictured here with his wife Maggie. (Photo courtesy of Larry Pynn)

Longtime Cowichan community advocate Richard Hughes died on April 22, 2022. Pictured here with his wife Maggie. (Photo courtesy of Larry Pynn)

A political heavyweight in the Cowichan Valley hangs up his gloves

Richard Hughes has died

By Larry Pynn

Richard Hughes — the social activist and outspoken long-standing regional district director — has finished his career on his own terms.

Hughes suffered from ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — and chose Earth Day to end his life, with medical assistance.

He will be remembered as a feisty political figure, a lefty who pulled no punches in his quest for a better community. His biggest targets, of course, were politicians, especially weak ones and those who forgot who elected them. And he railed against government bureaucrats who wielded too much influence over those politicians.

Hughes was especially supportive of Indigenous people and the environment, and through his Cowichan Conversations blog and Facebook page generously provided a platform for others’ views — voices that would not otherwise have been heard.

He worked in radio news in Duncan and in Vancouver, where he organized the first union of a commercial radio station in 1975. He also started Sunshine Cabs in North Vancouver in the early 1980s. Hughes later worked as a Cowichan real estate agent, and served three terms as Cobble Hill director on the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

He lived on a small acreage in Cobble Hill where he indulged in his other passion — gardening.

Hughes had a keen and mischievous sense of humour. He was also extremely kind and giving. He loved his family dearly, but also his posse of little dogs — as scrappy as him.

Despite Hughes’s declining health, he continued to post up to the end and did not complain about his health.

Even as he took his last breaths, he gave two thumbs up.

He wrote the following for his final Facebook post:

“Richard Hughes passed away this afternoon, Friday, April 22. He had been living with ALS for two years. He was unable to speak, eat, swallow or drink and was sustained through liquid by way of a stomach tube.

“His weight loss was severe. He had dropped 45 pounds, was weak, and it was clear that this incurable disease was taking its toll.

“He chose the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) after consulting with a number of doctors and exhausting any further measures of stabilizing the impacts.

“Richard is survived by his beloved wife Maggie of nearly 52 years, son Jeffrey, daughter Ashley (Derek) and his one year old grandson, Nathan, mother Georgina, 100 years of age, and his sister Mary Lynn Hughes.

“Richard thanks the many people who have visited with the blog, contributed articles, posts and comments as well and those who continue participation.

“Cowichan Conversations, the blog designed by Sharon Jackson in 2010, has remained online at https://richardhughes.ca but not as active as it had been.

“The Facebook group, Cowichan Conversations, will remain online and will continue to be administered by Sharon Jackson.”

Indeed, Hughes’s legacy will continue.

In keeping with his familiar sign-off: “Onward.”