Derek Wayne Hughes
Bosshughes1, The Big Dog, Dad
Written by his son, Austin
If you want to know why my dad was such a staple in society, you first need to understand that it all began in the crawfish eating, domino slamming bayou called Louisiana.
The year was 1961 when he made his debut. The youngest of two sons born to Willie and Georgia Hughes. His mother had a big presence and was the greatest influencer of his life. She is the reason he became the protector, the problem solver, and the “ Mr. Put The Team On My Back”.
When he was very young, his family moved to San Francisco, and he and his brother were raised on the bay laced in fog and world class cuisine. Maybe this is why he loved food so much. He used to tell us about going to Chinatown to get pork dumplings. Not none of that Panda House nonsense.
He was raised knowing the importance of family, God, and making sure he got to the dinner table before his older brother, Joseph, ate all the food. Derek was able to keep his head down and stay laser focused, which earned him the title of Bosshughes and an acceptance letter into one of the most competitive electrical engineering schools in the country. As his favorite comedian, Bernie Mac, would say “America, what was he thinking?” knowing he would have to take all this calculus classes! He graduated in 1985 and went on to become an iconic, hard nose, African American leader in the fields of engineering and technical sales. This man climbed the ladder an environment where few African Americans had had access, and he made it look cool and easy like LL Cool J licking his lips. He had few weaknesses, no kryptonite – other than his favorite dessert, ice cream – with his lactose intolerant self.
However, before we get too nose deep in how my dad dominated the field in his career like the Detroit Pistons bad boys guarding the rim, we need to rewind the tape and travel to Wichita, Kansas where he met the love of his life. The person who cast a spell on him. The person who made him cheesy like a Keith Sweat concert. Lacie Watson-Hughes.
My parent’s relationship was natural. Like Babyface making hits. If my dad was the coffee, my mom was the sugar. Growing up, it was evident to my sister, Kendayll, and I that they shared the same values. Our home was always peaceful, calm and joyful. Their love was more iconic than Obama and Michelle’s. Their love was more iconic than Michael Jackson’s glove. It was a living definition of Black Love ( #relationshipgoals). It had 1 Corinthians 13 tattooed all over it.
My dad and mom had a very progressive, modern mindset for their time and had made the decision to grow their family by adopting, even before they were married. They chose adoption even though they knew they had other options because they knew Love was Love, and DNA would not determine or factor in on how they built their family. This all took place in the 90’s so let that soak in. This was before celebrity adoptions brought the act of adopting into every household. Way before the “ He was a rescue” narrative from suburban folks when talking about their dog.
My dad was such a proud and boisterous father to Kendayll and I. He made sure that even though we were raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan we knew how to pinch and suck the head off of a Louisiana crawfish! He supported any and everything his kids wanted to do rather it was Kendayll’s “I want to be a drummer like Sheila E, ”or my I want to be the next Wolf Blitzer or Don Lemon phase. Whenever Kendayll and I would get stressed, he would say “Take it one step at a time and don’t forget your last name is Hughes.”,
The “Big Dog”, as he liked to call himself, loved barbecue. He loved to eat it, grill it, smoke it, experiment with different sauces and dry rubs. When he would fire up his Weber grill, he would call up his brother, an uncle, or a friend and say “ Go outside, face North, and take in a deep breath so you can smell this meat I’m cooking.” My dad also loved sports and it was normal to find him “awake”, dozing in and out of sleep watching ESPN. He was a huge Star Wars fan. He had a love for Darth Vader, even though his heart didn’t match the color of Darth Vader’s helmet.
My dad always had his family’s back. He was so respected and his words never needed to be repeated or explained, because they had so much weight. His physical body is gone but his spirit is here with a bigger presence than his bellowing sneezes. His presence is everlasting and his memory will never fade.
If you ask a geometry teacher what the strongest shape is, they would say an equilateral triangle. But I beg to differ. The strongest shape is the heart. It is unbreakable and undeniable.
Thank you, Dad.
Derek and I have always been committed to supporting the food banks in communities where we’ve lived. In lieu of flowers and gifts, please consider making a donation to your local food bank or volunteering to distribute food. Now, more than ever, our neighbors, brothers and sisters are suffering from food insecurity.