John A. Hughes

October 25, 1949 - July 13, 2020 Kennett Square, PA | Age 70

John Hughes, or Johnny to his Virginian friends and family, was a naturalist at heart. He was born on October 25, 1949 to parents Puller Alexander and Virginia Cashion Hughes. He passed away on July 13, 2020 at his home in Kennett Square, PA.

He believed in the importance of all life and the realities of compassionate care as related to the horses under his care and the wildlife on the lands he managed. He never put himself above anyone else; rather, he thought only of what he could do for others. He was proud of his family and friends and the land and animals he raised. Devotion to the principles of kindness and equality drove all of his actions every day of his life. He worked the land until his body couldn’t keep up with his will, and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

John graduated from Fauquier High School in Virginia and attended Old Dominion University before enlisting in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He honorably served in the Veterinary Corps and earned the title of Veterinary Specialist from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Division of Veterinary Medicine. Upon discharge John returned home to Virginia and continued his work with animals.

He began as a whip for the Warrenton Fox Hunt, continued showing at local horse events, and continued his devotion for animals as a worker in the horse racing industry. John Hughes lived, breathed, and spoke horses and the land. He spent the remainder of his 30+ year career as a farm manager of a broodmare barn in Unionville, PA. A trusted and dedicated worker John was relied on by the entire racing community. In 2003 he was awarded the first annual Plumsted Farm Races recognition award, and in 2006 he was awarded the Award Of Merit from the Woodville Steeplechase. Both awards recognized his excellence, dedication, and support of the horse racing industry from behind the scenes. If you were in the industry, you may not have met John, but you would be hard to find someone who didn’t know the name John Hughes or his horsemanship.

In addition to his work on the land and with the animals, John Hughes was dedicated to the community and the associations that supported his interests. John was a member of the PoMarLin Fire Company for 10 years and was a Wildland firefighter in the Pacific Northwest for two years as well as receiving a certification from the American School of Conservation for wildfire management. He was a member of The Livestock Conservancy, the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, the Tri-State Bird Rescue, the National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund.

Hardworking, devoted, good natured, kind, and deeply caring individuals like John Hughes are immediately remembered for their natural ability to make even a stranger feel welcomed, comfortable, and cared for. He not only listened to your problems but acted on solutions. He believed in the importance and the connection to animals, the land, the soul, and the spirit. All of this culminated into a gift to the world. The horse racing community, his friends, and his family were given the gift of his presence, and we are all better off for it.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Wendy Gray Hughes, his son of 35 years Brian Luttrell Hughes and his siblings Janet Zonn, Evelyn Martin, Betty McCue and Alex Hughes.

All services will be private.


  1. I am so sorry to hear of Johnny passing from this world. An unique and kind, loving person. My heart goes out to all his loved ones. Shawn Brittle

    Shawn Brittle | September 5, 2020 at 8:04 AM
  2. Johnny was a kind, funny and wonderful friend growing up, so I’m not surprised he became such a loved and respected man. He was just one of those people you meet in life who will always hold a special place in your heart. How fortunate we all are to have known him, whether as a young boy or as a grown man. My love and prayers go out to his family and all of those whose life he touched. Bette Crane

    Bette Crane | September 1, 2020 at 3:08 PM
  3. John and family, I remember you and your family so well from high days at Fauquier. Admired and loved, Linda Allen Robeson

    Linda Allen Robeson | August 30, 2020 at 9:05 PM
  4. May John Rest In Peace. He will live on through all the wonderful memories of him. God bless his family.

    Susie Cronk Lester | August 30, 2020 at 7:19 PM
  5. We are so very saddened to learn of John’s passing. He truly was a very genuine compassionate person. Larry worked with John for several years and considered him a true friend. Our sympathies to both Wendy and Brian. He will be so missed. May you forever rest in peace, John.
    Larry and Sandy Snyder

    Larry and Sandy Snyder | July 31, 2020 at 10:49 AM
  6. Our love and prayers to the Hughes family on Johnny’s passing. We have and dearly hold fond and fun memories of hunting together with Warrenton Hunt. Ride on Johnny.

    Max & Maria Tufts | July 19, 2020 at 11:09 AM
  7. A time to listen A time to speak A time to comfort A time to laugh A time for understanding A time to help and be always caring. This was John Hughes. A very special friend he was to my brother Dale and I. Many great memories are with us now of time spent together. A time to mourn. Thank you John Hughes for making our life enjoyable with your sincere friendship. Prayerfully your friend

    Joe Denisar | July 18, 2020 at 3:50 PM
  8. So very sad to hear of John’s passing. He had many wise words when breaking yearlings of a morning. My thoughts are with Wendy, Brian and all John’s family and friends.

    Gina O’ Callaghan

    Gina O’ Callaghan | July 16, 2020 at 7:29 PM
  9. John-
    “You Walked.. the Walk..”. Your dedication and loyalty were unparalleled, and you were one of the “Mainstays” if that Outfit. God.. we had sometimes there, and I can remember on several occasions, when it seemed “All Hell was breaking loose”, like those loose horses on Christmas Eve in 2008.. after the dust would settle.. I enjoyed nothing more than laughing with you, as how another “bullet was yet again dodged”.. and some days.. it felt like we were on Omaha Beach.
    I will remember ALL of those instances with great fondness, and as you said to me so long ago, when I asked you, “What makes you stay?.. and without skipping a beat.. with tat wry smile and twinkle in your eye, you said, “I want to see what’s going to happen next.” I can hear your voice & that deep sincere laugh.
    See you at “What happens next”.. you will never be forgotten and rest assured you will be thought of fondly by many always. Peace at last my Dear Friend.

    Jim Bergen | July 16, 2020 at 4:25 PM
  10. John was a kind man and a class act. The type of person you’d be blessed to have in your foxhole. I was honored when he informed me that through some mysterious strand in the universe we are distantly related. God’s speed.

    George Hundt, Jr. and Alex Hundt | July 16, 2020 at 1:36 PM
  11. Rest In Peace John. Your love and compassion for horses, land and family will always be with us. All our love to Wendy and Brian. Wish we could be with you now, Charles, Sanna, Hilla, Samuel and Lucas

    Charles Wetherill | July 16, 2020 at 7:10 AM
  12. John gave me a job when I had been laid off from my summer carpentry job in high school. He allowed me to muck stalls and paint fences and even ride with the horses in the back of the horse-trailer. That was a great experience that has remained with me all my life, and I’ve always been proud of the confidence it gave me around horses. Thank you John for your contagious friendliness and for your dedication to animals of all types. Lena and Alida and I will all miss you.

    Ben Wetherill | July 15, 2020 at 10:16 PM
  13. God speed John, you are sorely missed. My sincere condolences to his family and friends, those that are four legged and two. A truly thoughtful, wonderful, community minded man, who contributed so much to the lives of everyone he met.

    Patrice Miller | July 15, 2020 at 8:17 PM
  14. I used to love stopping by Buttonwood to see the babies ,such a great guy so sorry for your loss

    Karen Andress | July 15, 2020 at 7:52 PM
  15. One of the kindest men I’ve met in the racing industry. It was always such a great pleasure to see and speak within him. His well-deserved reputation preceded him…a horseman of impeccable credentials. Condolences to all whose lives he enriched.”

    Maggie Kimmitt | July 15, 2020 at 4:32 PM
  16. A rare and unique person, he always impressed me with his knowledge and ability.

    Steve Bertrando | July 15, 2020 at 12:57 PM
  17. so so sorry

    stacie C | July 15, 2020 at 12:42 PM

    BONNIE CHANEY | July 15, 2020 at 11:41 AM
  19. A good heart has stopped beating, a good soul just ascended to Heaven.
    My condolences to his wife, son & family. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Johnny.

    Karen Tarnell | July 15, 2020 at 9:10 AM
  20. I met Johnny when he moved to Southern Chester County from Virginia- he was a fun-loving, kind man and a hard worker.
    Although it’s been a number of years since I’ve seen him, my heart breaks for the community’s, as well as his family’s, collective loss- Rest In Peace, John Hughes-
    Diane Clemens

    Diane S Clemens | July 15, 2020 at 8:14 AM
  21. RIP John you were a great man and it was my pleasure to know and work with you. Condolences to his family.

    Wendy McCormick Jenigen | July 15, 2020 at 7:36 AM
  22. Dear Wendy, Brian, Janet, Evelyn, Betty and Alex,

    Johnny was and always will be one of the most loving, compassionate, caring and considerate men I have ever been fortunate to know….and love. News of his death is just so excruciatingly painful. He was so talented and so capable; he set such an unparalleled example of professionalism. Beautiful inside and out, flawed as we all are, I know of his goodness, talent and intellect. I know of his love for you, his family. I know of his respect and consideration towards all. Please please know just how devastated I am for our collective loss.

    Ellen Lorish | July 14, 2020 at 9:25 PM
  23. RiP John,, I’m lost for words, ❤ one of a kind all around good man,

    Brenda | July 14, 2020 at 9:05 PM
  24. Uncle Johnny always caught my pony out hunting when I fell off. I will always be thankful for that. Love to Wendy and Brian, he will be so missed.❤

    Zan Martin | July 14, 2020 at 8:54 PM
  25. Thoughts and prayers to Johnny’s family. He will be missed.

    Georganne | July 14, 2020 at 8:10 PM
  26. Very sad indeed. We are so upset for Wendy and Brian. John was a wonderful Broodmare Manager and Friend. His work and love of our Horses was unparalleled. He always ran the barn with the utmost efficiency and dedication. We enjoyed his extracurricular activities raising rare ducks and chickens. He had a big heart and we will miss him.

    Cathy and Jonathan Sheppard | July 14, 2020 at 6:43 PM
  27. Rest in Peace Uncle Johnny.

    Marcie Zon | July 14, 2020 at 5:47 PM
  28. We’ve lost one of the best of the best–

    Bonnie Bean | July 14, 2020 at 5:33 PM
  29. So sorry to hear of Johnny’s passing
    Went through grade school and high school together. He is forever in my memories

    Joanne Browning Warman | July 14, 2020 at 5:29 PM
  30. So very sorry to hear of Johnny’s passing. May he Rest In Peace.

    Nancy Browning Premen | July 14, 2020 at 5:14 PM
  31. So very sorry to learn of Johnny’s passing. It has been many years since I saw him but I do remember him as a gentle and pretty easy going. I did not know about his military service but his job was perfect for love of animals. I know he will be missed but I hope all the good times and memories will ease the emptiness of his passing. Thanks for his service to our country and may he Rest In Peace.
    Don and Diane Hume

    Don Hume | July 14, 2020 at 4:48 PM
  32. Rest In Peace John!

    John Walters | July 14, 2020 at 4:45 PM
  33. Our hearts are broken

    Jim McCue | July 14, 2020 at 4:39 PM

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