William Henry Hughes was known to all as “Bill”. He was born in Dallas, Texas on March 28, 1930, the middle son of Joseph and Gladys Hughes. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his younger brother, Charles, and his older brother, Robert. In 1950, Bill met and fell in love with his soulmate, Dolores “Doe” Ellerbe. They were married in 1952, and from this union had three children - David, Stephen, and Gwendolyn. The family moved from Washington, DC to Staten Island in 1964. David, his oldest son, also precedes him in death.
Bill’s family moved to Washington, DC when he was around 15 years of age. He graduated from Armstrong High School in 1948. While attending the Howard University School of Pharmacology, Bill was a member of the Howard Swingmasters. After a short period at the National Institute of Health, Bill was selected by Count Basie to join his band in 1953, and became the anchor of the trombone section of the World Famous Count Basie Orchestra. As a valued member of the Orchestra, Bill traveled the globe, entertaining the crowds at world-famous festivals and venues; including performances for royal families. Bill has also performed and recorded with noted vocalists such as Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joe Williams, to name a few. Aside from a short hiatus from 1957 until 1960, when he worked for the U.S. Post Office, Bill retired as Director of the Orchestra in 2010 after 57 years of touring with the band.
Bill enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, fishing with Warren Cranford, watching baseball, and solving crossword puzzles. He was called Dad by so many, and respected by all. He and Dolores mentored other couples during their 20 year membership at Mount Sinai Christian Church, because their 65 years of marriage was a testament that love never fails. Bill is survived by his loving, devoted wife, Dolores; son, Stephen (Wendy); daughter, Gwendolyn; 6 grandchildren – David William Hughes, Al-Teriek Rice, Jessica Hughes-Burnett (Rufus), Anthony Hughes, Sean Hughes, and Kelly Hughes; 3 great-grandchildren; brother-in-law, William “Breck” Ellerbe; Goddaughter, Teddi Cooper; numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of “surrogate” children, family and friends.