Dennis “Denny” Hughes was born and raised in Milton, and after nearly 38 years, he retired in 2007 from Delaware Department of Transportation.
But Hughes, 62, is very much still on the go. At home, he spends time playing with his 18-month old granddaughter. At 2 a.m., it’s nothing for Hughes to rise out of bed, put on his firefighting equipment and drive an emergency vehicle as a Milton Volunteer Fire Department responder. Since 1968, Hughes has responded to fires in the Milton area. Today, he is treasurer at the fire department, as well as a safety officer.
In 2000, he helped raise funds for the Milton Historical Society and is the president of the nonprofit organization.
These days, Hughes, Friends of the Milton Public Library President, has been busy collecting books, hanging signs and volunteering at the library, as the Friends prepare for the second annual book sale, Saturday, Aug. 28.
With a bristly moustache, Hughes occasionally talks with his hands. A man of few words, he’s reluctant to toot his own horn when it comes to raising a family, being a philanthropist and supporting his hometown.
Hughes was born just after World War II, and he recalled small town life as a child.
When he was 9-years-old, he said his mother used to stroll down to Sam’s Department Store, now the site of Irish Eyes, where she bought him socks, underwear, sneakers and shirts. “They sold everything.
“At Christmastime, they had toys upstairs,” Hughes said.
“Back then, there wasn’t the Midway theater. We had our own theater with weekend movies. On Wednesdays, we had surprise nights,” said Hughes, who said he looked forward to unexpected flicks.
Down the street from his Chestnut Street home, families often gathered for parties at the Freemason’s lodge.
“Back then, we had a lot of parties,” Hughes said. In a community where all the families knew each other, the town was self-policed back then, he said.
In the late 1940s, his father, Thomas S. Hughes, founded the weekly town newspaper, “The Town Crier,” with his wife. As a boy, Hughes also pitched in at the office.
His father wrote editorials from the city editor desk and the paper was filled with social events, Hughes said.
“I remember my father writing about a stoplight at Route 16 and 5. He said, ‘We need a light there. He told people to get up with their representatives,’” he said.
As a young adult, Hughes recalled getting ice cream at the then-Tasty Freeze on Route 16, where he met his wife, Brenda.
The couple has been married for 41 years.
Hughes returned to talking about his work with the library.
Nancy Rhue, now deceased, was the former Friends of the Library President. In 2004, she helped dedicate the library’s expansion.
“When she died, we dedicated part of the library to her. I did not want to see the Friends go away, so I took over as president,” Hughes said.
The Friends of the Milton Public Library gift shop is open every Saturday where old wooden Milton signs are sold, new and used books, garden flags and tote bags. One popular seller is pottery with Milton emblazoned on the side, Hughes said.
“All the money raised from the sale, goes directly to the library. Last year we raised $600, which I think is pretty good for a book sale,” he said.
“I’m the type of person that says if somebody doesn’t get involved, it probably doesn’t get done,” he said. “I’ve lived here all my life. I love Milton,” Hughes said.
Friends of the Milton Public Library will hold their annual book sale at the library from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 28. Contact the library at 302-875-2665.