A Bob for All Seasons
In his 23 years, Bobby Hughes earned a number of nicknames. His friends called him Party Bob, because he enjoyed his time away from the office. When he bought a new car, his family called him Lexus Bob.
As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mr. Hughes would go to Shea Stadium with his father, grandfather, sisters and uncle to be a vocal minority for the Cardinals when they played the Mets. But he never earned the nickname Cardinal Bob.
His most important nickname was Bank of America Bob, his parents said, because he lived for his job as a margins clerk. As the son of an electrician from Sayreville, N.J., Mr. Hughes started dreaming of a job on Wall Street when he was a freshman at Sayreville War Memorial High School. "He loved the whole lifestyle," said his father, Robert Hughes Sr. "He loved the excitement of that business world, the money, the way they dress, everything. That's all he ever wanted to do."
Mr. Hughes attended Montclair State University but was so eager to begin working on Wall Street that he started at the Bank of America in the World Trade Center five months before graduation. For those months he took his remaining two classes at night while living with an aunt, Kathy Hughes, in Lyndhurst, N.J.
After graduating, he moved back with his parents and began his schedule of waking up at 5:30 a.m. and arriving home at 7 p.m., or later if he went out with friends. He liked living at home, but had other plans. "He mentioned that he would like to get an apartment in New York," said his mother, Louise Hughes, "because he insisted he was going to make it big."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 24, 2002.
Robert Hughes, 23, put others' lives first
Robert J. "Bobby" Hughes Jr. spent most of his high school summers in Sayreville, volunteering at a camp for children with brain injuries.
On Sept. 11, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center North Tower, where Mr. Hughes worked on the 83rd floor, he stayed to help a woman having trouble on the stairs.
"Only three from his office didn't get out. Bobby and another guy were helping an old woman. They were the only three," said Mr. Hughes' father, Robert Hughes Sr.
Just after the plane hit the North Tower, Mr. Hughes' mother called him at his office. "He said, 'Ma, I got to go. We got to evacuate,'" the father recalled.
People who worked with the younger Mr. Hughes at the Bank of America office called the family in the days following the attack, saying they saw their son as he was reaching the bottom floor of the tower.
Co-workers asked Mr. Hughes if he needed help, but he said "I'm all right," the father recalled. "Then they said they saw all this debris coming down, and that was the last he was seen," Robert Sr. said.
The family will hold a memorial service for the 23-year-old Mr. Hughes at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Carmen F. Spezzi Funeral Home, 15 Cherry Lane, in the Parlin section of Sayreville.
Mr. Hughes was born in Jersey City, but the family moved to Sayreville when he was just 1 year old. He was the oldest of four children and the only son.
Mr. Hughes played several sports, but baseball was his favorite, his father said.
Mr. Hughes played shortstop for the varsity team at Sayreville War Memorial High School, and for the American Legion team in the summer league.
His favorite professional team was the St. Louis Cardinals, and he and his father made annual trips to see them play against the Phillies in Philadelphia and the Mets at Shea Stadium, his father said.
Through the end of high school and through college Mr. Hughes delivered weekly newspapers and worked at a catering hall, a bagel shop and an appliance store.
Mr. Hughes wanted to be a broker, like his uncle, Patrick Ambrosia, and applied for a job at the Bank of America before completing his business degree at Montclair State University.
Mr. Hughes was hired by Bank of America as a margin clerk in August 2000, and left the office early two days each week to attend classes, until he graduated in December, his father recalled.
"He loved that job," Robert Hughes Sr. said. The son was working on 57th Street in Manhattan until about four months ago, when the company moved to the World Trade Center.
Mr. Hughes also is survived by three sisters, Shanin, Leigha and Lyndsey; his maternal grandparents, Patrick and Charlotte Ambrosia of Old Bridge; and his paternal grandfather, Raymond Hughes of Sayreville.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Salvation Army to assist people in need following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Profile by Tom Haydon published in THE STAR-LEDGER.