David Terry Hughes (1948–2018)
David Terry Hughes Sr. was a longtime journalist, photographer, and newspaperman from Benton (Saline County). Hughes’s newspaper career began with freelance photography for the Benton Courier at age fourteen. In addition to newspapers in Arkansas, Hughes worked for papers in Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Saipan, and Guam. He was the grandson of noted Arkansas poet and columnist Anna Nash Yarbrough.
David Terry Hughes was born on February 8, 1948, in the Panama Canal Zone to Frank Hughes and Jessie Shaver Hughes. His father served in the U.S. Army; when he was stationed in Panama in 1949, he was killed while crossing the street when Hughes was only a year old. Hughes’s mother remarried but soon separated. His three half brothers went to live with their father’s family in southeastern Arkansas, while Hughes joined the household of his grandmother Anna Nash and her husband Jonathan Byron Yarbrough Sr. in Benton.
Hughes’s career as a writer and newspaperman started while he was still in school. He approached Fred Ashcraft, then editor of the Benton Courier, and asked for him for a job. Ashcraft hired the young Hughes as a photographer. Hughes took his first pictures with a camera borrowed from his grandmother. Eventually, Ashcraft gave Hughes his first byline in the Benton Courier. After many years with the Courier, Hughes started working for the newly created Saline County News, which was published from 1955 to 1972.
Hughes graduated from Benton High School in 1967. He earned an associate’s degree in journalism from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) in 1970. In 1971, he joined the U.S. Air Force but did not make it through basic training, having health problems stemming from a previous injury he sustained during a house fire.
After returning to Benton, Hughes joined with Whitney Jones and Shirley Coppock to establish the Saline County News-Pacesetter. Hughes’s pictures were featured prominently in the publication. The News-Pacesetter was a short-lived but popular newspaper that competed directly with the Benton Courier during a time when the Courier was a powerhouse in Arkansas. During the 1960s, the Courier was the largest weekly newspaper in Arkansas and won more prizes for journalism and photography than any other paper at the time. The Pacesetter annoyed Courier editor Sam Hodges so much that he repeatedly asked Whitney Jones’s father to sell the paper to him. The paper was eventually sold to a man from Malvern (Hot Spring County) who was bought out by Hodges. Hughes went back to work for the Benton Courier, most notably covering the Flood of 1978.
In 1987, while working in Arkadelphia (Clark County), Hughes read that a publication in Saipan was looking for an editor. He applied and was offered the job by phone two weeks later. While in Saipan, Hughes met a Filipina woman named Lota Jumaday. The two were married by the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Pedro Tenorio, on September 23, 1988, in his office in Saipan. Their son, David Byron Hughes Jr., was born a year later on the island of Guam. That year, the Hughes family moved to Herndon, Virginia, where Hughes worked as a reporter and Jumaday as an accountant for a large computer firm. They also tried to start their own newspaper in North Port, Florida. Jumaday died on March 27, 2016, from cancer.
On July 4, 2011, the Saline Courier announced that Hughes was being welcomed “back into the fold” as a guest columnist. Hughes was still in Virginia at the time. His first “Enter the Net” column was published on July 10, 2011. He also spent five years as editor for a magazine in northern Virginia. “Enter the Net” was a technology themed series that ran from July 10, 2011, to May 9, 2013, when Hughes began a new series he called “Get the Point,” in which he focused more on local issues. He moved back to Benton in 2016 and wrote his “Views from the Clock Tower” columns for the Courier until his death on May 29, 2018.
For additional information:
Berry, Cody. “Longtime News Man Talks County History.” Saline Courier, August 20, 2017, p. A3.
“David Terry Hughes.” Saline Courier, June 1, 2018, p. 3.
Hughes, David. “Saying ‘Goodbye’ to My Beloved Wife.” Saline Courier, April 3, 2016, p. B3.
Cody Lynn Berry
Last Updated: 01/31/2020