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Sep 4, 2012 9:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sandy Hollow Day Camp Founder William Hughes Dies August 26

Sep 5, 2012 10:18 AM

William Robert Hughes

William Robert Hughes of Southampton died on Sunday, August 26, at North Shore University Hospital. He was 83.

Born on March 1, 1929, in Ozone Park and raised in Forest Hills, Mr. Hughes was an family man, sportsman, scholar, educator and coach who enjoyed 83 years of life.

With his wife, Benita, who predeceased him, Mr. Hughes founded and directed Sandy Hollow Day Camp in Southampton, the longest consecutively run family owned and operated day camp in the Hamptons. He coached camp sports right up to the last week of his life. On the day before his final hospitalization, Mr. Hughes sat inside the gates of Sandy Hollow, eyes closed, smiling, with his face up to sky. He said that he was “feeling the air and enjoying the children.”

Mr. Hughes is well known and loved by thousands of children, parents and friends who attended Sandy Hollow across generations. He created a family atmosphere at his camp, infusing life at Sandy Hollow with his strong values, passion for sports and activities, sense of humor and exceptionally kind and loving heart.

Doug Reisman, who started as a camper when he was nine years old and eventually worked as a counselor, said Mr. Hughes treated everyone as if they were family. “I could have worked other places for more money,” he said, but chose instead to stay with the camp as a young adult because of Mr. Hughes.

According to survivors his special qualities had an impact on many lives, and his work at Sandy Hollow contributed a large and profound piece of Hamptons history since 1969.

Mr. Hughes was the son of Edwin Hughes, an Irish detective, and Nicolind Carupella. His parents, his older brother Edwin, and members of his extended family lived on the same street and raised him. He was a strong student and athlete who attended the University of Alabama during college years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and later a master’s degree at Hofstra University. He played a variety of sports including minor league baseball. As an athletic coach of baseball, basketball, soccer, and field hockey, his eyes saw every nuance of the players’ interactions. His expert coaching at the Garden School and various gyms and fields in the metropolitan area, was fueled by intense passion, strong leadership of his teams as athletes and human beings, and pure love of the game.

Nina Madison, the very first counselor at Sandy Hollow Camp and who first became acquainted with Mr. Hughes when she was a student at the Garden School, said of Mr. Hughes, “everything was about making the child feel they were the best and could accomplish anything. To him, it was all about having a great childhood.” Ms. Madison, whose children attended the camp many years later, added, “he had an inherent love of sports, he was a great educator and he totally understood children.”

Mr. Hughes dedicated his life to children working as a classroom teacher, physical education teacher and eventually a school administrator. He became the headmaster of the Garden School, a private college prep school in Queens, where he worked since 1958. At the Garden School and at Sandy Hollow, Mr. Hughes loved people and guided them wisely. He helped people and influenced their lives.

Mr. Hughes loved how his family spent all of their time together and enjoyed each other’s company. He taught his daughters, Beth and Eileen, and grandchildren, Will and Fiona Barrie, all of whom survive, to love each other and to be as close as a family could possibly be, survivors said.

The family received friends at the Brockett Funeral Home on August 28 and 29. A funeral Mass was held on Thursday, August 30, at Basilica of Sacred Hearts in Southampton. Interment followed at Southampton Cemetery.

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Rest in Peace Mr. Hughes. What a wonderful man! We were so blessed to be part of the Sandy Hollow family. I will never forget how wonderful you were to my Donny....
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Sep 4, 12 10:41 AM
RIP Mr. Hughes, I am also a part of the Sandy Hollow family. I spent so many wonderful summers at camp!! You will be missed!!
By USCG_WIFE (6), Northern Michigan on Sep 5, 12 11:50 AM
both of my children and then my grandchild were blessed to be part of sandy hollow and the hughes'
By rabbit (65), watermill on Sep 9, 12 7:49 AM