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<p>CULPEPPER, Va. – For a `Brooklyn boy’ who remembers when the pharmacy, grocery store and theater were on the same block in his old neighborhood, Tom Hughes is a long way from home. But he’s not complaining. He’s secure enough to leave the 27-acre farm and log cabin homestead nestled in the pristine mountains of Culpepper County, Va., and move thousands of miles away to Monterey, Calif. for an `assignment’ that is as close to his heart as his country home. Hughes, 75, recently got word that he was accepted by one of the U.S. Naval Post’s school of business and public policy to teach financial management courses to graduate students. The two-year stint starts Oct. 1 of which Hughes will also serve as a student advisor. “On the surface, it’s not a trivial move for us but it’s such an honor to be chosen and I’m really looking forward to teaching,” Hughes said. Hughes received a letter from a friend, U.S. Navy Admiral Tom Church, who heads the Navy’s budget department, back in March asking him for recommendations for the teaching position. Hughes thought about and it didn’t take long to figure out who should throw their name into the hat. “The more I thought about it the more I thought I would be happy to make myself available,” Hughes recalled. Church gave Hughes the official word in late April that he had been selected. More than anything, he’s looking forward to teaching students from the Navy and Marine Corps – from `brown shoes’ (aviators) to `black shoes’ (ship drivers) and others who will need the courses for the military track they choose to follow upon graduation. Since retiring from Navy FCU as President/CEO in 1996, Hughes has kept his finger on the pulse of the industry, applying twice to NCUA’s Board. Hughes will be attending NAFCU’s annual conference in July and indeed still travels to many of the notable industry meetings. The latter is a sort of a flip-flop of roles because his wife sits on the board of Synergy One Federal Credit Union in Manassas, Va. and travels to yearly confabs, a transition Hughes takes in stride. “She’s in the forefront now and I’m okay with that,” he says with tongue in cheek. He also spoke at his alma mater, Harvard University in June at a symposium on military response to threats and terrorist attacks as part of his Class of 1947 reunion gathering during commencement week. It was there that Hughes got his Bachelor of Science degree in applied sciences before starting his Navy career in 1944. Prior to becoming president/CEO of Navy FCU, he served on its board for nine years. As the Hughes gear up for their cross-country trek, the obvious question is why uproot, move so far away from home for a short period of time? His reply starts with a vivid memory on a ship years ago with a young recruit who seemed to be all thumbs. “I chewed him out all the time about mistakes he’d make,” Hughes said. “He came back one day and said `sir, I’ve been reading things you’ve quoted and you’re wrong.’ He had the gumption to correct a senior officer but instead of me getting mad, I felt glad that he mustered the courage to correct me.” That enlistee went on to become a better and more meticulous naval officer, Hughes said. It’s that type of exchange and impact that motivates Hughes to make the move to California. He looks forward to melding young minds and providing focused advice on which path to take within the Navy or Marine Corp. Back in Virginia, the two-year vacancy will work out splendidly for his daughter who had been seriously considering moving from Maryland to a more rural area so that her seven-year old daughter could experience country living. With a serene river in the background, where deer, badgers and an occasional bear make up the picturesque landscape, Hughes said without a doubt he’ll miss the peacefulness. Nancy, a former IBM executive who built the log cabin with her own hands years ago, will too, miss one of her “contributions to the world” but she’s just as excited about the move, Hughes said. “She’s eager to go,” he said. “When I have doubts about some things, she kicks me in the rear and brings me back to reality.” Since retiring, Hughes enjoys spending time with his eight children and 17 grandchildren. He also keeps in touch with current Navy FCU president/CEO Brian McDonnell and praises him for doing a `solid job’ as head of the largest credit union in the nation. “After 35 years in the Navy I came home one day to visit my father,” Hughes recalled. “He asked me are you going to stay in (the military) and I said I think so. He shot back, `I’m glad because you’ve been bad on being an outsider so it’s best you stay on the inside.’ Words that still ring true today. [email protected]</p>

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