BAYONNE, NJ - In the 1946 film classic It’s a Wonderful Life main character George Bailey, with the help of his guardian angel, sees the impact he had on the family, friends, and neighbors, and how their lives would have been altered had he not been involved in them.

Throughout his life, the movie’s watchers learn, Bailey made decisions that benefited others, even at the risk of his achieving his own dreams.

If Frank Capra had never brought George Bailey to the screen, Mayor Jimmy Davis told TAPinto Bayonne, the same film could have been written about Bayonne’s own John J. Hughes, Esq.

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The comments came on Monday soon after the municipal courtroom, where Hughes spent countless hours as the city’s public defender, was renamed in his honor.

“For a generation of attorneys” the plaque that now adorns the entranceway to the courtroom reads, “John will always be the ‘Dean of the Bayonne Bar.’”

“He sought justice tirelessly for the less fortunate among us,” it continues, referring to the role the local legend served in from 1974 until his death in 2017.

City Attorney John “Jay” Coffey led the short but poignant dedication ceremony, referring to Hughes as his mentor, someone who anyone could turn to for advice because he “always knew the right thing to say, the right way.” It was when Hughes remained quiet, Coffey said to laughs, that you knew you were in trouble.

Referring to Hughes as a “sage” Joe Waks, a longtime fixture in local and state politics, said that he was always “calm headed, he knew how to calm everyone down.”

“He could always get people to stop and think,” Waks concluded as he turned to Margaret Hughes, John’s wife of 48 years, who had joined the conversation and added that her husband was indeed always “sensible.”

“Why are they doing this,” Margaret said Hughes would ask if he were alive to see the dedication ceremony, before adding that he would’ve been proud of the show of support from so many different groups he interacted with, including the Boy Scouts.

“He was a great person and really deserved this,” Cora, 9, said of her grandfather. “He was really smart and always liked riddles,” she said with a smile, admitting she was never able to stump him.


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