Tales of Two Lifetimes

Note: Unfortunately, before this story was published, Thomas Hughes passed away at the age of 97. Penny interviewed them before the holidays and said, "Thomas was such a lovely man, and he seemed very spry only a couple of weeks ago when I stopped by to collect edits."

At the ages of 97 and 85, respectively, and following long, illustrious careers in foreign service and journalism, you might think that Thomas Hughes and Jane Casey Hughes had earned the right to take it easy. But on the contrary. The couple, who have lived together in Chevy Chase Village for the past 26 years, have been busy — Tom sitting for interviews with his biographer, Bruce Smith, who published The Last Gentleman: Thomas Hughes and the End of the American Century this past year, and Jane, working on Incidentally, an account of her life working for Voice of America and traveling the world as a journalist and the former wife of ex-Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski.

The couple moreover continues to stay abreast of current affairs, reading two newspapers a day and staying in touch with family and friends. Jane also walks 4 miles daily around the village and works out online, and Tom likes to serenade her from their gracious living room while she makes dinner, playing waltzes on his Bechstein grand piano.

Tom grew up in Minnesota and studied at Carleton College and Oxford University (where he was a Rhodes Scholar) before attending Yale Law School. He was counsel to Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey from 1955-1958 and served as director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. From 1971-91, Tom was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

Jane, who was born in Washington, D.C., and attended The Madeira School and Wellesley College, pursued a career in journalism even after marrying her first husband and moving to Lima, Peru, where her daughters, Carolina and Alexandra, were born. Working first for Voice of America’s Africa Division and the U.S. Information Service’s Africa Book program, where she served as editor, Jane returned to D.C. in the early 1970s, when her son, John-Michael, was born, and where she hosted a weekly radio program on WHWH.

In the early 1980s, Jane moved back to Peru with Pedro, who had been appointed minister of energy and mines, but the couple divorced upon their return to D.C., and she resumed her career at Voice of America, where she interviewed scientists, health experts and personalities like Ann Landers (whose post-interview question, "Are you happy?" prompted some soul-searching on Jane’s part about the state of her marriage), and entertainers such as Siegfried and Roy, whom she interviewed at their estate while the performers were in residency in Las Vegas.

Jane met Tom, who had been recently widowed, at the Chevy Chase Country Club in the mid-1990s, and the couple married and settled into the historic colonial home he owned near Chevy Chase Circle, which was built in 1921.

Until recently, Jane played tennis three times a week at the Chevy Chase Club on a team captained by Joan Kirk and walked weekly with friends from All Saints Church, where she arranged flowers under the talented tutelage of Beth Cartland. She and Thomas also enjoyed trips to Europe, Latin America and Asia, along with lectures at the Cosmos Club, of which they are members. You may also recognize Jane’s photo and byline from Chevy Chase Village Life magazine, for which she interviewed neighbors and covered events, in addition to being a contributing writer for the Sibley Senior Association newsletter.

While the pandemic certainly impacted Jane and Tom’s lives as much as everyone else’s, they continued to learn new skills, staying in touch with family and friends online and discovering the joys of Blue Apron cuisine, which they prepare themselves and which they have found to be a wonderful way to learn how to make and enjoy different dishes from around the world.

Jane describes the last 27 years with Tom as the happiest of her life, and their appreciation for each other is evident in the way they talk and listen to each other’s stories and in the way they express their gratitude for each other during our conversation. Listening to Tom serenade Jane on the piano with a waltz he knows by heart, his fingers moving seamlessly over the keys, is testimony to the couples’ enduring affection and to a life filled with extraordinary talent, love and affection. 

We wish them continued health, happiness and many more delicious Blue Apron meals in the future. Bon appetit!

*** (Please add this bio with Penny's photo) ***
Penny Bell was born in Peru but raised in the U.K. and has lived in Chevy Chase Village for over 20 years. She is married with two adult children and is the co-owner and producer of Sugo Sauces premium fresh pesto sauces, which are available at Broad Branch market and select MOM's Organic markets across the area. For more information, visit www.sugosauces.com.