by Cori Hilsgen
Margaret (Margy) Hughes encourages people to work together and to take pride in their St. Joseph community. She has put a lot of energy into civic projects that welcome people downtown.
“In the 11 years I’ve lived in St. Joe, I’ve heard about what people who lived here all their lives have done,” Hughes said. “In a small community you have to work together and to have pride in something.”
Hughes’ involvement in St. Joseph includes having served two terms as a charter member of the Monastery Advisory Committee, working on the Field Street Road issue and the St. Joseph Action Group, co-chairing the annual Millstream Festival, helping on the St. Joseph Quilting committee and with the opening of the Closet-2-Closet Thrift store. She has also done countless other kind deeds, such as arranging car pooling so a friend and former colleague could get to doctor’s and physical-therapy appointments after his stroke.
Hughes believes people in St. Joseph are looking for ways to engage in town life.
“The older community-minded folks have to engage people and get them to build what is going on now in St. Joe,” said Hughes. “We need to be able to be more inclusive, welcoming different kinds of people and offering them a way to participate.”
Hughes was also the 2011 recipient of the Mother Benedicta Riepp Award. The award is given by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict each year to recognize a lay woman who inspires others to incorporate Benedictine values into their daily lives and service.
Characteristics recognized by the Riepp Award include integration of Benedictine values in personal and public life, openness in mind and heart through hospitality, respect for the dignity of each person, alertness and response to opportunities for service to others, and skills in open and healthy dialogue.
Sister Lois Wedl nominated Hughes for the award. She received the award from Prioress Michaela Hedican at the Gorecki Dining Center in 2011. Wedl nominated Hughes because she believes the Benedictine values of hospitality, leadership and respect for others flourished during the 38 years Hughes served as a faculty member and chairperson of the physical-education department.
When Hughes started teaching at the college in 1966, almost all the faculty and staff were nuns.
Because of her early years in Hibbing, of growing up in a family house located opposite the Catholic school and nuns’ convent, Hughes was comfortable in this setting.
“I felt special to be one of five or so lay people who got to work closely with them,” Hughes said.
When speaking of Hughes’ career at the college, CSB Athletic Director Carol Howe-Veenstra said Hughes taught her a great deal about community.
“Margy taught me so much about community,” Howe-Veenstra said. “Since her retirement, I know I need to be ‘Margy’ to others and keep that community and teamwork going.”
Hughes attended Hibbing High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree from St. Cloud State University. She taught in Detroit, Mich. before coming to CSB in 1966, where she taught physical education for 37 years until retiring as Professor Emerita of Physical Education in 2003.
Hughes said she was very involved in activities and athletics growing up in Hibbing. Her father was a coach and athletic director at Hibbing High School. She has an older brother and a younger brother. Two of her nephews are currently attending St. John’s University.
Hughes and her husband, Tom, chose to move from Sartell to St. Joseph in 2000. Tom is retired from the paper mill in Sartell. The Hugheses wanted to be able to enjoy the benefits of a small community and to be close to the CSB and SJU campuses to enjoy many of the athletic and entertainment events. Hughes said she and her husband are glad they made the choice.
“I have met many new people since my retirement and also have been able to stay connected to the friends at CSB and SJU,” Hughes said. “St. Joseph is a vibrant city with as much to do as a person puts forth the effort to participate in and volunteer for.”