In Memoriam: Wilson Wright Hughes, 1946–2017


Saturday, March 11, 2017 - 10:00

School of Anthropology Ph.D. candidate Jessica Nelson has made a video about this important Garbologist; view it here.

Wilson Hughes (B.A. Arizona, 1973), world-renowned Garbologist and longtime Tucson Clean & Beautiful Board Member and volunteer, died on Saturday, January 7, 2017. Wilson retired from City of Tucson Environmental Services, and had worked as part of the team that introduced blue barrel recycling to Tucson 15 years ago. He also previously worked at the University of Arizona Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology’s Garbage Project. Wilson was one of the project’s first garbage sorters as an undergrad and continued to play a leadership role from his 1973 graduation until 1999, when he became the City of Tucson’s waste reduction planner. He devised the protocol for sorting garbage into categories that was used throughout the Garbage Project’s tenure.

This past December, Tucson Clean & Beautiful dedicated a commemorative tree at Pantano River Park in the Hughes family’s honor, recognizing Wilson’s lifetime of service to Tucson and the environment. His generosity in sharing knowledge, mentoring and serving others, sense of humor, and love for family, friends, and colleagues will be fondly remembered and deeply missed.

Services are being planned for Saturday, March 11, 2017 at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church at 10:00 a.m. SoA Director Diane Austin will speak at the memorial, at Wilson’s request. In lieu of flowers and in the interest of reducing landfill waste, the Hughes Family has indicated Wilson’s wishes were for contributions to be made in his honor in support of Tucson Clean & Beautiful programs.

Adapted from the Tucson Clean & Beautiful newsletter, December 2016, with additional information from Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage (UA Press) by William Rathje and Cullen Murphy, and “Making a molehill out of a mountain“ by Mitch Tobin (Tucson Citizen, 2000)

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