04 Oct NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HONORS PROSPER HERITAGE LEADERS BY LORI OGLESBEE-PETTER
When naming the new elementary school, the Prosper ISD Board of Trustees honored two people who have preserved the history of the community and their alma mater – Jim and Betty Hughes. Now their legacy of service will live on.
Both Jim (Class of ’51 Valedictorian) and Betty (Class of ‘56) attended all 12 grades in Prosper. Betty has fond memories of those years.
Both were athletic and held leadership positions in school. Jim was captain of the football team and played basketball and baseball. He was also Class Favorite. Betty played basketball, was a majorette and also Class Favorite.
“We had such small classes,” Betty said. “We grew up with the same people. We knew everybody in our classes. We knew the whole school in fact.”
After high school, Jim signed with the Detroit Tigers with a $4,000 bonus. He played third base for farm teams including the Durham Bulls. After his service in the army, he returned to baseball and was traded to the Boston Red Sox farm league and ended with the Texas Rangers.
“Several scouts said that if he had been signed today he would have played big league ball,” Betty said. “There were just 16 major league teams back then. Now, there are 30.”
In the meantime, Betty devoted her life to education for 30 years holding positions from
the classroom to the central office in North Texas districts.
Jim continued his career managing a farm team for the Oakland Athletics with future big leaguer left-handed pitcher Vida Blue on the team. He scouted for the New York Mets when they won a World Series in 1969 and the Toronto Blue Jays when they won back-to-back World Series in ’92 and ’93.
“He loved sporting events and especially Prosper High School sports,” Betty said. “After he retired, he wished he had retired sooner so that he could help more people in Prosper.”
That legacy has not been forgotten after Jim’s death last Sept. 6.
“One of my neighbors lost a big limb off a tree in the winds last week,” Betty said. “She said she sure missed Jim because he would have been down there with a chainsaw to clean it all up. That’s just the kind of person he was.”
The community called Jim “Mr. Prosper.”
“He became known for his service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, leadership and dedication in making Prosper a better place to live,” lifelong friend Bill Hays said about him in a tribute.
As charter members of the Prosper Historical Society, they have collected artifacts and history that are preserved in a museum at the Prosper ISD Board Room.
“As the town began to grow,” Betty said. “We realized the city was losing its history.”
In 2011, Jim received the first ever Prosper Founding Heritage Citizenship Award. They both were honored with a Certificate of Leadership in Preservation from the Collin County Historical Society.
“When Dr. Watkins called to say that our names had come up for the new school, he asked if it was OK,” Mrs. Hughes said. “Jim would have said, ‘No, no. There’s more people who deserve that.’ I am proud they honored our work.”
The next day, Dr. Watkins called again to tell them the new school would be James Albert and Elizabeth Hodges Hughes Elementary.
“I’m not sure anyone would even know who that is,” Betty said. “We don’t put on airs, so I asked if it could be Jim and Betty Hughes Elementary.”
Dr. Watkins and the board honored that request. The new campus opened last month in the Prestwyck Development just south of Highway 380. Betty Hughes was there to cut the ribbon and so was Jim’s beloved 1972 Chevrolet pick up.
“Everyone recognizes that truck,” Betty said. “Everyone in Prosper. I couldn’t ever get away with anything in it, because people know that truck.”
Everyone recognizes Jim and Betty Hughes, but for more than a truck. Now generations to come will know their part in making Prosper proud.