MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A Shelby County barrier breaker and one of the first Black County Sheriff’s Office deputies is being remembered for living a life of service.

Funeral services for William Hughes were held Saturday at Anointed Temple of Praise on Riverdale Road.

Mr. Hughes died last week at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital after suffering multiple strokes.

He was born in Memphis and attended Booker T. Washington High School. He was president for the class of 1950. He attended Shelby State Community College and Memphis State University. His focus was on law enforcement investigations.

Mr. Hughes was appointed sheriff’s deputy in 1960. Throughout the years, he would be promoted to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and jail inspector. 

The Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association honored Mr. Hughes in 1977 with the Most Outstanding Deputy Sheriff recognition.

Years later, he worked in various roles such as assistant chief of Internal Affairs Bureau for the sheriff’s office, director of both the Shelby County Fire Department and Department of Corrections, superintendent of the Shelby County Penal Farm, and court security officer for the United States Marshal Service.

He was also the first Black assistant chief in law enforcement in Tennessee.

Hughes graduated as the second Black graduate from Tennessee of the F.B.I. National Academy. He was a life member of the NAACP, a Prince Hall Mason, and a Boy Scout troop master. He attended Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.

Mr. Hughes leaves his wife, Elizabeth Hughes, two grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his three children.

William Hughes was 90 years old.