Ann Hughes, former State Rep. and the first female to chair the McHenry County Board died at age 77 on March 3rd.
I vividly remember the day she won the chairmanship over McHenry ‘s Don Doherty.+
My father was the deciding vote.
He figured that Ann would show more independence of County Republican Party Chairman Al Jourdan, than would Doherty.
Suffering from cancer, Dad checked himself out of Georgetown University Hospital in Washington against doctor’s recommendations and we drove home.
The next day I wheeled Dad into the County Board room and she made history with her election.
I served with Ann in the Illinois House from 1993 until she resigned after being elected for the third time.
At the time, I don’t remember hearing why.
I assumed it was because GOP challenger Steven Robert Verr ran three very aggressive campaigns against her, gaining a higher percentage of the vote each time.
But, maybe there were other reasons.
When appearing at candidates’ nights, Hughes was bold in her support alternatives to public schools.
The most fun occurred watching her fight Lakehead, a Canadian petroleum firm that tried to put a pipeline through the family seed corn farm.
Not only through theirs, but that of the wife of a University of Chicago Economics Nobel Laureate, Merton Miller.
One of Ann’s sons went to Canada to see what a petroleum pipeline would do to farmland and what he found convinced Ann a fight was appropriate.
And, fight she did.
The Illinois Commerce Commission ruled with the landowners.
Based partially on the argument from Dr. Merton Miller, the Appellate Court also ruled that Lakehead had to negotiate with landowners, rather than being allowed to use eminent domain, as had been the case in the past.
To quote the court’s decision,
According to Miller, a new line would only assist in giving Lakehead a greater market share. It would not result in any benefit to the public because the aggregate supply would not change and thus the price of crude oil would not be affected. Any benefit from the new line would flow entirely to Lakehead and Canadian oil producers.
Long-time acquaintance, former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster, said,
“The memories of all the good she did for the community will live on. Ann was a public officials who had commonsense, intellect, business background and spine of steel, making her one of a kind. This news is heart breaking and my prayers are with her beautiful family.”
Below is Ann’s obituary:
Ann S. Hughes, 77, passed away March 3, 2021 at home in Woodstock, IL.
She was born in Ogdensburg, NY, the daughter of Robert N. Simonsen and Marian Rownd Simonsen. She was a graduate of Orange High School at Pepper Pike, Ohio and received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wells College in Aurora, NY in 1965. After graduating, she taught at Hood College in Frederick, MD for a year.
She married Earl Hughes, Jr on February 18, 1967, and lived in Colorado Springs, CO until his release from the Army November 1967 when they moved to Woodstock, IL.
Ann fully participated in life and was never afraid of a challenge.
She was Secretary-Treasurer of Hughes Seed Farms & Secretary-Treasurer of Hughes Hybrids.
She served on Woodstock District 200 School Board, McHenry County Board also serving as Board Chair, and was a Member of the Illinois House of Representatives 1993-1997.
Ann served on the Centegra Health System Foundation Board, Amcore Bank Board, was a founding Director of American Community Bank and was active in the noon Woodstock Rotary Club for many years.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
She is survived by her sister, Thordis Niela Simonsen of Salida, CO,; her husband, Earl Hughes, Jr.; and three sons, David (Karen), Donald (Kim), and James (Kerry), as well as eight grandchildren, Andrew (Elizabeth) Hughes, Megan Hughes, Samuel Hughes, Grant Hughes, Jack Hughes, Madelyn Hughes, Molly Hughes, and Jeffrey Hughes and a nephew, Richard Freytag of Reston, VA.
Ann enjoyed monthly meetings with members of a former Homemakers Club, reading, knitting, traveling with friends, gardening, keeping up with grandchildren, and in later years walking five miles with a few close friends in the City Park every morning.
A later remembrance will be held for family members.
For those desiring to leave a memorial it is suggested that they donate to Gavers Community Cancer Foundation: https://gavers.org/, Gavers Community Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 1724, Woodstock, IL 60098.