Roxboro lays to rest firefighter who put community first

James Hughes

ROXBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – The Roxboro Fire Department is remembering one of their own after he lost a long battle with cancer.

James Hughes spent more than a quarter century as a firefighter.

A lot of that time was spent in Roxboro and still more as the head of a volunteer department.

He was a man said to have put the community first.

At a tiny church in Person County, firefighters and police officers from more than 20 agencies came to honor the memory of a man who loved to help people.

“He believed in going the extra mile to make sure the community in Roxboro and Person County was taken care of,” said Reggie Villines, former colleague.

Hughes was a captain on the Roxboro Fire Department but when he retired he moved to the Triple Springs Volunteer Department because he just couldn’t stop helping people.

Lifelong friend Al Smith said Hughes didn’t start off wanting to be a firefighter when he and his pal arrived in Person County.

“We came ready to farm but we changed our mind because farming wasn’t as easy as we thought it was,” Smith said.

Fellow firefighter Villines recalled how one snowy day after fighting a house fire then captain Hughes turned his attention to the family who’d just been burned out of their home.

“He went the extra mile that day we took the family and put them in the fire truck a couple days later we have them to the fire station and they had dinner with us,” Villines said.

The lesson taught by Hughes:

“Firefighting is about family and caring for people.”

To give you a bit more insight into the man– some of his former colleagues said Hughes pretty much tried to keep his illness to himself — preferring not to bother others with his troubles.

He preferred to concentrate on the needs of others.

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