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Alum John Hughes Builds a Legacy

November 7, 2012

Dr. John Hughes knew at an early age he would be a Bison. His father, Ross Hughes, graduated from OBU, paying for his own schooling by helping build the rock wall outlining the perimeter of the campus that stands to this day. So, when the topic of college was discussed among John and his three siblings, OBU was the only option according to the Hughes family.

While intending their children would attend college, the Hughes family had few resources. However, Hughes and his siblings were unaware of their financial limitations while growing up. Instead, he said they experienced rich relationships with friends, mentors and relatives who consistently nurtured and encouraged them.

Despite the limitations, Hughes made it to Bison Hill. He got involved on campus, where he said he grew in the right direction. He cultivated relationships and excelled in his studies, successfully taking on a strenuous course load of 18-20 hours each semester.

"When I look back on those three years at OBU, I was blessed by good friendships with great people focused on strong faith and good decisions," Hughes said.

Hughes acknowledges two key administrators who helped him thrive in his time at OBU. His chemistry professor, Dr. William Neptune, provided encouragement and stimulated a strong interest in chemistry. Hughes also acknowledges OBU's ninth president, Dr. James Ralph Scales, as always taking time to talk to and encourage him, even after Hughes had graduated from OBU.

Upon graduating, Hughes attended dental school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he found the education he received at OBU had prepared him well for the rigor of further studies. Hughes said he was better prepared than most of his peers.

After graduating from dental school in 1966, he married his wife, Thompson. They have been married for 46 years. The Hughes family stayed in Kansas City, where they were civically, politically and socially involved in the community. They attended church, where Hughes served as an elder. Hughes also was active in the Kansas City Civic Council, where he was chosen to work with civic, religious, political, educational and charity leaders in Kansas City.

Hughes entered a residency program in endodontics at Boston University's Goldman School of Graduate Dentistry, graduating in 1983. That same year, the Hughes family moved to Tucson, Ariz., where Hughes eventually started Southern Arizona Endodontics. In the 29 years of its existence, the group has grown to include 12 endodontists at four locations.

"Our faith is a strong contributor to our success," Hughes said. "It has grown into the largest endodontic partnership in the United States."

Along with cultivating success in the dentistry industry, Hughes also has been involved in mission opportunities. For the past 13 years, he has spent a week each March with college students ministering to the residents of Ensenada, Mexico. Hughes serves as a contractor, leading the students in building houses for families in need.

"The families we build for are awed by their good fortune, but those most impacted are the students," Hughes said. "They go down for a great vacation and experience a life-changing seven days."

Hughes has started a foundation to replicate and expand the experience. The JWAC (Jesus Was a Carpenter) Foundation provides the same mission opportunity to adults of all ages so they can learn how and where to build a house in a safe location.

Hughes said none of the opportunities or relationships he has gained would have been possible without his education at OBU.

"I have had a lot of great experiences, splendid friendships and exceptional opportunities," he said. "I have been very blessed by health, good education, wonderful friendships and a loving, supportive wife whose talents exceed mine, four grandkids who live next door, two sons and a daughter. I am truly blessed."

Click here to view a list of others who have received the Profile in Excellence award.