Leo Hughes Moir III, known to most as Hughes, died on Sunday, April 4, 2021, at his home in Nederland, Colorado, about a year after a cancer diagnosis. He was 81. A husband, a father, a teacher, a storyteller, a musician, and a traveller, Hughes made friends wherever he found himself, because he was genuinely interested in the world and all the people in it.
Born in Whittier, California, on March 3, 1940, to Leo Hughes Moir Jr. and Helen (Baker) Moir, Hughes lived in several southern California towns before moving to Ojai, California, where he attended middle and high school. While he was an accomplished athlete (he lettered in three sports) and musician (blessed with perfect pitch, there was hardly an instrument he couldn’t play), he didn’t consider himself much of a student. Ironic, then, that he would go on to earn three degrees in education, teach elementary school and college students, and become a beloved mentor to countless other educators.
After completing a year of junior college in California, Hughes travelled to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to attend Antioch College. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision, as it was there that he met the love of his life, Judy Moir ’65, during her first semester of college. They were married soon after, on September 24, 1961. Hughes went on to complete his Master’s degree in education at Boston University, and it was while he was in Boston that his two children were born.
Hughes stayed in Massachusetts for four years to teach 5th grade at the John Ward Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts. Here he encouraged his students to see the world by offering extra credit to those who traveled and then wrote about what they had seen and done. From Boston, Hughes and his young family moved to Detroit where he continued his education at Wayne State University, earning a Doctorate in education, before landing in northwest Ohio where Hughes would teach in the College of Education at the University of Toledo for 28 years.
A love of learning and a curiosity about the world and its people fed Hughes’s – and Judy’s – desire to travel, and the Midwest was a good jumping-off place to see the country. They spent much time crisscrossing the states between Ohio and the southwestern part of the United States, and when they discovered the tiny mountain berg of Nederland, Colorado, they knew they had found their new home.
After Hughes’s retirement from full-time teaching in 1990, he and Judy moved west. They weren’t content to sit in their backyard meadow and admire the Rocky Mountains, however. In Nederland Hughes served as the first president of the Board of the Nederland Community Library, the president of the Board of the Aging Services Foundation for Boulder County, the manager of the Nederland Visitors Center, and he volunteered at the Carousel of Life and the Backdoor Theatre. The couple also travelled extensively around the country and the world, befriending fellow travelers and locals alike, and meticulously chronicling their trips on their travel blog. Hughes and Judy enjoyed much of their domestic travel by RV (which could accommodate their beloved dogs), and they eventually found Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, Arizona, which in recent years had become a second home.
Hughes loved sharing songs and stories with his family and friends, playing the trombone with the Barker Dam Brass Band and the guitar with McGinty’s Wake and the bagpipes – alone – when the spirit moved him. He also enjoyed welcoming friends to his basement bar where he might offer a glass of tequila, playing cribbage and bridge with neighbors, and celebrating life’s occasions, both large and small.
He will be sorely missed by everyone who was lucky enough to have known him during his full, adventurous, and rewarding life, but most especially by his loving his wife Judy (Chasan); son Michael and his partner Julie Hummer; daughter Debra Budde and her husband Dan; and grandchildren Griffin Budde and Julia Budde. Hughes also leaves two sisters, Pam Wagenhals and Janet Karolyi.
In lieu of flowers, if you are so inclined, perhaps you might consider a donation in Hughes’s memory to one of these deserving institutions that were close to his heart: Nederland Community Library Foundation (c/o Nederland Community Library, 200 Highway 72N, P.O. Box 836, Nederland, CO 80466, attention Susan Gerhart) or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary https://bestfriends.org/donate/memory.
(Originally published in the April 29, 2021, edition of The Mountain-Ear.)