Former Oakland High School teacher and coach Ray Hughes may best be remembered for his love of family, Oakland football and Murfreesboro.
Hughes died Sunday. He was 78.
Hughes taught and coached for 30 years in Rutherford County. He was on the coaching staff of the 1970 Murfreesboro Central football team that won the state championship. And he was named Oakland High’s first football coach in school history in 1972.
He later coached at Middle Tennessee State University as an assistant.
Oakland High named its football stadium after Hughes on Sept. 6 in front of family, former players and friends prior to the Patriots’ game with Siegel.
“Today, Oakland football and more importantly the Patriot family lost one of its most respected coaches,” wrote current Oakland football coach Thomas McDaniel in an email. “Coach Ray Hughes embodied every characteristic of a true Patriot.
“Thankfully, we were able to honor Coach personally with the dedication of the stadium this fall. His name will forever be attached to Oakland football.” David Parsons, who was the Central High quarterback while Hughes was on staff, echoed McDaniel’s words.
“That was one of the first things that ran through my mind when we received the call about his death,” Parsons said. “I sure am glad that he was there for the dedication of the football stadium. It just made my heart feel good.” Hughes, an MTSU graduate, began his teaching and coaching career at Crichlow Elementary in Murfreesboro before moving on to Mitchell-Neilson Elementary and was eventually principal at Hobgood Elementary.
After his coaching stint at MTSU ended, he returned to the local classroom, where he taught at Thurman Francis before re-joining the Oakland coaching staff and was an assistant on the 1984 coaching staff led by coach David Alsup.
Parsons said Hughes left a lasting impression with those he coached and taught.
“He’s been a part of my life forever,” Parsons said. “He’s just a Murfreesboro icon. He’ll surely be missed.” The family has asked that any memorials be made to the Oakland High football program or any other Murfreesboro football program due to Hughes’ love of football.