Hometown Hero | Thelma Hughes

Thelma Hughes, our latest Hometown Hero, has a time-honored bond with a family she helped out decades ago.
Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 10:45 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - For the last four decades, Thelma Hughes has had a front row seat to the moments that have shaped West Virginia’s history.

She’s also helped people in their most dire, private moments, like when they faced a utility being shut off.

Fast forward 43 years, and she still doesn’t know who suggested she be put in a position to help others, as a part of a new group inside then Gov. Jay Rockefeller’s Office called “The Governor’s Hotline.”

When it meant any complaints or hardship requests, Thelma took the calls and then took the lead to make things better for the lives of individual West Virginians.

One family that she helped in the very beginning of her career is now considered her family.

The Staffords got Thelma’s name and were told she could help.

Mr. Stafford had been seriously injured a mine accident. Mrs. Stafford was ready to deliver her second child at any moment. The workers comp claim still had not been processed. The family had nothing left.

They got their settlement and a lifelong friend.

Thirty-five years later, Thelma and the Staffords still visit each other and exchange Christmas cards. One of their children is even named after Thelma.

Her extended family grew during the pandemic as calls about COVID, and then unemployment started coming in nonstop.

Working from home, Thelma said she was able to work more, and was happy to do it because she felt blessed to have everything she needed.

Her home office also helped her with something -- easing into a well-deserved retirement.

“I never asked anyone other than ‘how can i help you?’ Not who you were, who your dad is, where you work, nothing like that,” she said.

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