Ball State mourns the loss of devoted alumna, wife of Trustee Hollis Hughes

Topics: Alumni, Board of Trustees

December 7, 2016

Lavera Knight Hughes and Hollis Hughes
Funeral services for Lavera Knight Hughes will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in the Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church, 719 N. Notre Dame Ave., South Bend.

The Ball State University community is saddened to learn of the passing of Lavera Knight Hughes, a Ball State alumna and the wife of Ball State Trustee Hollis E. Hughes Jr.

Lavera Hughes, 73, devoted her life to the education and celebration of young people. She obtained her master’s degree in education from Ball State and spent her career in the South Bend Community School Corp. There she put her education to good use, nurturing generations of children and putting in motion the lessons of personal growth and commitment to equality that she herself lived and learned as a lifelong member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She believed that every child had the ability to learn and to thrive, if given a proper chance and the support needed to succeed.

For her efforts, Hughes was named the Teacher of the Year at South Bend’s Monroe Elementary School in 1984 and was the districtwide runner-up that same year.

Hughes’ passion for young people extended beyond the classroom to the athletic fields — especially when it came to cheering for her beloved Ball State Cardinals. She was loath to miss any home game and was always ready with words of encouragement and support for the student-athletes. And Hughes let her loyalties be known, coming to the contests fully decked out in spirit wear — Cardinal shirts, colorful beads, and foam fingers or noisemakers were always part of her game day ensembles.

“Lavera attended every football game except one during the 2016 season,” said Mark Sandy, director of athletics. “She was an avid fan, easily excitable and always positive. Although I knew her for only two years, she was obviously a very special person. We will miss her greatly.”

Hughes’ commitment to others — both locally and globally — kept her involved in the NAACP and with her faith community at the Olivet AME Church in South Bend. Ball State Interim President Terry King said Hughes’ work for the good and growth in the world was part of what made her unique.

“Lavera was one of those rare people who could make everyone around her feel welcome, special and important,” King said. “She had a great sense of humor, and while she may not have taken herself too seriously, she was devoted to leaving the world better than she found it. She not only did that, but she inspired others to take up the cause and carry it forward. That says just so much about who Lavera was.”

Together, Lavera and Hollis Hughes were committed to the development of Ball State and were active throughout all aspects of campus. The couple was generous not only in the time they devoted to the university but worked to preserve opportunities for new generations of Cardinals through their membership in the Fellows Society (Silver level).

Hughes is survived by her husband of 49 years, Hollis; her mother, Ida Lillian (Brown) Knight of South Bend; a brother-in-law, Wade D. (Pamela) Hughes of Altadena, California; and a host of cousins, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces and friends.

She was preceded in death by her father, Dempsey Lewis Knight, and her brother, Eugene Charles Knight.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in the Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church, 719 N. Notre Dame Ave., South Bend.

For additional information, please read Lavera Hughes’ obituary at the Palmer Funeral Homes website.

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