Albert A. Hughes, age 98, a native Houstonian, passed away April 11, 2019, following a heart attack.
Born January 4, 1921, Al was the third of four children of Albert S. and Clara Hughes. He grew up in Houston’s East End, during the Great Depression, and was a member of Stephen F. Austin High School’s very first graduating class in 1938. (To see Al’s interview for the school’s 80th anniversary celebration, watch the first minute of www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbFZx45s-_8)
Following high school graduation, Al worked for Baker Oil Tools until he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and served during World War II. As a torpedo man on the USS Shubrick, he participated in the 1944 invasion of Normandy in France and the 1945 invasion of Okinawa in the Pacific. His 1944-45 shipboard diary is available online at www.ussshubrick.com/hughes.htm.
In wartime 1944, when Al was on a five-day leave in New York City, he called his sweetheart, Edna Belle Zurborg, in Houston, saying, “Come up here and let’s get married.” Edna Belle rode a train to meet him. They found a willing pastor at The Little Church Around the Corner. They asked two passersby on the street to serve as witnesses. And they were married. A few days later, Al’s ship departed for the battlefront and Edna Belle returned to her job as a secretary at Baker Oil Tools in Houston.
Following his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1945, Al returned to Baker Oil Tools and also attended the University of Houston at night, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Al and Edna Belle and their daughter Anitra lived in Houston’s Riverside Terrace neighborhood, near the University of Houston campus, until 1963 when they moved to Champions in Northwest Houston. Al continued to work in the oil field equipment business with Mattco, where he gained experience in manufacturing, sales, and service, and ultimately with Camco, International, Inc. from 1957 until his retirement. At Camco, he had primary responsibility for setting up oil tool manufacturing plants in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as in Mexico and Venezuela. In 1969, when Camco won a large Russian contract, Al and his family moved to Belfast for several years while Al oversaw a move and enlargement of the manufacturing facility there and the service of that contract. He retired from Camco as Vice-President – Manufacturing in 1986.
Al was devoted to his family. They spent many happy days together at their farm near Bellville. He enjoyed managing the property and hosting family gatherings at the farm throughout his life.
Several years after Edna Belle’s death in 1987, Al began courting his longtime friend and former neighbor Myrtle Lee Nelson, whose husband had also passed away. They married in 1992.
Together Myrt and Al traveled extensively, including visits to friends in England and Ireland, river and ocean cruises, and trips to the Casinos in Louisiana to play the slots. They both became Texas Master Gardeners, volunteering at Mercer Arboretum and tending their own beautiful garden at home where they lived independently. Al loved to cook and cooked most every day, constantly trying new recipes from the Internet. He loved his family and friends. Most Mondays found Myrt and Al having Mexican dinner with neighborhood friends at a nearby Casa. And he loved the Houston Astros!
The wonderful staff at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital took such fine care of him that he was comfortable and happy during his last three days, joking and flirting with the nurses, and watching the Astros win each evening.
Albert A. Hughes was predeceased by his wife of 42 years Edna Belle “Zubie” Hughes, and his daughter Anitra Hughes Stayton. He is survived by his wife of 27 years Myrtle Lee Nelson-Hughes, his granddaughter Shirsten Meador Hobbs & husband Justin, great-grandsons Dylan Hobbs and Nathan Hobbs, and numerous nieces and nephews. And step-children Karen Giesen & husband Barney, Joe Nelson, Laurie Lambert & husband Loyd, and Rob Nelson & wife Judy. He was also beloved step-grandfather and step-great-grandfather to the large Nelson clan.
A Celebration of Life and Resurrection, with full military honors, followed by a reception, will be Thursday, April 25, at 2 PM at John Wesley United Methodist Church, 5830 Bermuda Dunes Drive, Houston, Texas 77069.