Farewell to an officer and a gentleman

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Kara Wansbury (author)

Topic(s): Funeral

Portrait of the late Rear Admiral Owen (Oscar) Hughes, AO, RAN (Ret’d). (photo: Unknown)
Portrait of the late Rear Admiral Owen (Oscar) Hughes, AO, RAN (Ret’d).

Navy personnel have farewelled a true officer and a gentlemen, Rear Admiral Oscar Hughes, who passed away in Canberra recently.

Approximately 300 mourners were told of his career in the Navy and as a civilian, but it was for his character and manner that the patriotic Admiral was most remembered, said Principal Chaplain Eric Burton.

“The reading from the Book of Nehemiah, described qualities such as having a clear objective, the ability to gather a team and delegate, to maintain headway against internal and external opposition and to inspire. All these were mirrored in Oscar Hughes' life through the complex projects he was involved in,” said Chaplain Burton.
Vice Admiral Robert Walls (Ret’d) gave a eulogy.

“I came to respect him as an excellent naval officer, a creative colleague, an inspiring leader, a fine family man, an enthusiastic fisherman and golfer, and the best you could hope for in a shipmate and friend.

“An observation widely applied to him through both his naval and civilian careers was that he was not only respected by those he led, he was liked.

“Equally, he treated everyone he met with respect. He was known for the effort he put into his relationships; it was one of his best attributes,” Vice Admiral Walls said.

Born in Waikerie, South Australia in 1935, Rear Admiral Hughes joined the Royal Australian Naval College in 1951. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from Melbourne University in 1958, and following application training in the United Kingdom, he spent many years in aircraft engineering and project appointments at the Naval Air Station in Nowra, in HMAS Melbourne, and overseas.

He served as Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer in HMAS Vampire and HMAS Albatross. On 4 August 1986 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and posted as the Submarine Project Director. He continued to serve in that posting until his retirement in August 1993 following the launch of HMAS Collins.

Following retirement, Rear Admiral Hughes provided consultancy services to Defence and Defence industry. In January 1998, he joined the IBM Sydney 2000 Olympics project office, responsible for the operational readiness assurance of applications, systems and the total IT solution for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

In 2004, he resumed his role as a consultant to Defence industry. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1983 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1989.

One of the last things Rear Admiral Hughes is understood to have said before his passing was, “Life’s a wonderful journey. You get the chance to love a lot of people.”

And in turn, a lot of people loved him.