David James Hughes of Richland died Tuesday, April 28, 2015. He was 68.
David Hughes was a master craftsman who inspired others with his skill, his friends and family said.
A silversmith and gunsmith, he was an educator who founded a class to teach the creation of 18th-century-style flintlock rifles and other crafts, said Richland resident Katherine Hughes, his ex-wife and friend.
“I would say he was very generous, patient, a wonderful teacher,” she said.
Mr. Hughes was a former, longtime industrial arts teacher who founded the Gunn Klass, a night class where he taught adults to make 18th-century-style firearms and crafts for the Hampton Township School District.
He started the class more than 40 years ago through the Community College of Allegheny County. Through his work, he helped spur more interest in the Hampton-based Depreciation Lands Museum, of which he was a board member, Hughes said.
“Because a lot of people were so interested in the 18th century, they joined the museum and participated in living history,” she said.
In August, Mr. Hughes told the Tribune-Review that his parents, Leslie and Armella Hughes, cultivated his interest in antique firearms, crafts and history.
“I was constantly hearing stories of history. … We had a camp in Warren (County), in Russell, right on Conewango Creek,” he said. “We'd sit there fishing, and my grandpa and my grandma, and my mum and dad would be talking. ‘This is where the French came down … and claimed this land,' ” he recounted.
Mr. Hughes was born Jan. 5, 1947. Raised in Shaler, he graduated from Shaler Area High School in 1964. He earned a degree from California State College, which is now California University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Hughes taught industrial arts to school children in Florida for two years. He returned to the Pittsburgh area and taught industrial arts in the Hampton Township School District for 35 years until his retirement in 2003.
“He was a highly skilled craftsman of flintlock rifles and period jewelry,” said Katherine Hughes, who said Mr. Hughes was self-taught.
Mr. Hughes received the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from the Contemporary Longrifle Association.
Friend John Buxton of Hampton, an artist, used Mr. Hughes' trade silver and other pieces in his paintings of 18th-century scenes, he said.
In addition to his ex-wife, Mr. Hughes is survived by his daughter, Eileen Hughes of Montreal; a sister, Bonnie Kagle of Shaler; and a grandson, Quincy Hoffnar, 8 months old.
Mr. Hughes was preceded in death by his son, David Hughes.
Schellhaas Funeral Home & Cremation Services will handle Mr. Hughes' arrangements. A gathering of friends and family has been tentatively scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in Mr. Hughes' home.
Copy from Triblive, written by Tory N. Parish. Photo by Russ Young.