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Eric Hughes, senior assignment editor at 6abc Action News, dies at 58

Mr. Hughes died July 7 from lung disease. “He was calm in the face of challenging and breaking news,” a former reporter said.

Eric Hughes
Eric HughesRead moreCourtesy of the Hughes family

Eric Raymond Hughes, 58, of Lansdowne, a senior assignment editor at 6abc Action News, died Wednesday, July 7, of interstitial lung disease and scleroderma, at Temple University Hospital.

Mr. Hughes loved his job and loved telling stories about people, his family and colleagues said. He began work at 6abc nearly 30 years ago in October 1991.

“He was calm in the face of challenging and breaking news,” said Denise James, a former reporter at the station. “He was also very committed to inclusion.”

She said he listened to everyone, including people from communities “who might otherwise be marginalized. He would see the value in their stories and would push to have them told.”

If Mr. Hughes were having a telephone conversation in the newsroom, “you would have no idea who he was talking with, whether it was a [news] tip caller, a high-priced attorney, the district attorney, or a police officer,” said Leslie Foster, the managing assignment editor at 6abc.

“Whether you were a reporter, a photographer, or a maintenance man, he spoke to you with the same courtesy,” Foster said. “It didn’t matter if you were a celebrity or the person who brought the mail, he treated everyone with the same amount of respect, dignity, and compassion.”

Sharon Hughes, Mr. Hughes’ wife, said he loved being a journalist. He was the senior assignment editor who worked at night. But even during his off hours, if he came across something newsworthy, he would call or email someone at the station.

“We would be going out, and if he saw a large number of police cars going somewhere, he would follow the police cars to find out what was going on,” Sharon Hughes said.

James, the former 6abc reporter, said Mr. Hughes was known to talk to people who called the station whom others might write off or ignore.

“He was really a good soul,” James said. “He got many stories and he earned the respect of people because he spent time listening to them.”

One night, he answered a call from a woman who had been accidentally locked inside a used-car lot because the owners had gone home without realizing she was still there looking at cars. When they left, they also released guard dogs who roamed the lot.

“He called the police first, while the woman was standing on top of a car while the dogs were nipping at her feet,” James said. “Then he told our crew to get there.”

In 2013, Mr. Hughes received the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists’ Impact Award.

In a video produced for the award presentation, a narrator asked Mr. Hughes if he felt an obligation to report on the Black community.

“I’m more concerned with them being ignored,” Mr. Hughes said in the video. “I don’t want them to be ignored. If there’s a story to tell, I think it needs to be told. It deserves to be told. Until the African American community is convinced that they matter, then I don’t feel that my job is complete.”

Mr. Hughes was born Aug. 20, 1962, in Detroit to Raymond Hughes and Mary Medley Hughes. He was the fourth of five children of a school-principal father and a mother who was a homemaker.

After graduating from Detroit’s Cooley High School in 1980 he enrolled at West Virginia State University.

There, he met Sharon Fountain when they were 19-year-old sophomores. He started out as a business major, but after getting a job at a local newspaper, he became fascinated with journalism and began working at the college radio station, his wife said. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1985.

They were married in 1990, a little more than a year before he started working at 6abc. On July 21, they would have been married for 31 years.

Mr. Hughes loved watching football and basketball, and used to play tennis and coach a youth basketball team. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hughes is survived by his father; a son, Eric II; a daughter, Ashley; one brother; and two sisters. Another brother died earlier.

A viewing will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, July 17, at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19132. A funeral will follow at 10 a.m. Due to COVID-19, face masks are required. Interment will be at Glenwood Memorial Gardens in Broomall.