A Live Lived: Jo Lene Hughes made life an adventure every day

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
Every girl loves when a boy softly whispers in her ear those three magic words…Let’s Go Fishing! But in the case of Jo Lene and Al Hughes, it was Jo Lene who often suggested: Let’s go fishing!
Jo Lene, who died February 12 at the age of 76, enjoyed fishing. “She loved to fish better than eating,” said her husband, Al. “We camped and fished in so many places — from Key West, Fla., to Nova Scotia in Canada, to Alaska, the Grand Canyon and places in between. She fished for salmon in Alaska,” Al shared.
The couple also has a boat and Jo Lene with Al enjoyed night fishing at Watauga Lake.
“Fishing was probably her favorite fun thing to do,” said Al.
After Jo Lene and Al were married in 1966, Al joined the military and was sent overseas, but before he left he had a large painting done of Jo Lene, which he took with him. He said he fell madly in love with Jo Lene the first time he ever seen her.
Al spent four years in the service, and Jo Lena wrote him every day and he saved all 574 letters she wrote him in addition to a stack of letters she wrote him on days when he was in places he could not receive mail. She also saved every letter he wrote her.
The couple were married 55 years. Except for two years when they lived in Las Vegas, Nev., while Al was attending barber school, the couple lived in Elizabethton.
But, there was more to Jo Lene than fishing and letter writing. “She was involved in church. She was a Sunday School teacher and enjoyed singing. At one time, she, her sisters, and their daddy sang in a quartet. She also played the piano.
The couple attended East Side Free Will Baptist Church. “Church activities consumed a lot of her time. She had a strong faith and was faithful to the Lord and her church. She was a lovely lady inside and out,” Al said.
“I’m a Christian and in church today, because of my wife,” Al shared.
Jo Lene had worked at Grady’s Dry Cleaners, Sperry, and Bowers Florist.
Al described Jo Lene as an “outdoors person,” who enjoyed gardening, and canning vegetables from her garden. “She was a wonderful cook, but it was not her favorite thing to do. Invariably, she would always burn something. We had this saying: Dinner will be served when the smoke alarm sounds,” Al shared with a sweet chuckle.
“We had so many good years together. We had a son, Christopher, and he and his wife, Tammy, gave us two granddaughters, which became our pride and joy,” said Al.
“Jo Lene was a very disciplined person and upbeat person, who loved with everything in her. She was also very giving, and enjoyed reaching out to others. I was blessed to have her in my life and by my side all the years that I did,” said Al, as he still has the large painting of her that he took with him to military service.
Jo Lene was laid to rest Feb. 16 at the Mountain Home National Cemetery.
A couple of friends on the funeral home tribute page mentioned Jo Lene’s sense of humor and her laughter and the wonderful friend she was.
No doubt, Jo Lene Hughes is smiling today, having found the ideal “fishing spot” in heaven. Yes, in the end she caught the big one!

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