Hughes Brothers Theatre

Hughes Brothers Theatre
Branson's Ultimate Entertainment Experience!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Gary W. Hughes, beloved patriarch of the Hughes Family in Branson, Missouri, passes away


Gary W. Hughes, 74, of Branson, Missouri passed away Sunday, June 8, 2014, at his home following a long but brave battle with cancer. 
Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 11:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 9113 State Hwy 76, Branson West, Missouri (near Notch, Missouri) with Bishop William Mahoney officiating.  Prior to the services, Visitation will be at the Church from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM.  Burial at Evergreen Cemetery, located on Hwy 76 between Hwy 265 and Indian Point Rd., will follow the services.
          Gary William Hughes was born March 11, 1940, in Hawthorne, Nevada to Arden and Ethel (Tobler) Hughes.  Gary grew up loving sports, music, and nature.  As a child he ran barefoot on the hot desert sand and spent many hours batting rocks with a stick as far as the eye could see.  He loved the way the desert smelled after a rain storm. 
He attended Mineral High School where he lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball.  Although he wasn't a Marine he pitched Baseball for a Marine All-Star team...because they didn't have a good enough pitcher.  Later, when he was in the Army he was selected for their All-Star team because of his high batting average.  Throughout his life he pitched softball for community and church leagues.  He was also an expert horseshoe pitcher, winning several state and national tournaments. 
He worked a lot with the youth, coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball.  And finally, he was an avid follower of BYU football and basketball.  Son Jason says that “Dad loved a good competition. He could make a competition out of anything. When we worked together it made the time go quickly and we got a lot more done.”
           Gary also had a love of music and learned to play piano, accordion, and guitar by ear.  He joined his Dad’s dance band at a young age. He had a beautiful, resonant bass voice and was invited to sing and travel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for many prestigious events, including a presidential inaugural.

            After serving in the National Guard five years where he studied radio communications and trained to repair the Nike Ajax Missile, Gary served a 2-year church mission to the Eastern States.  There Gary developed his life-time love of missionary work.  While on his mission, he was invited to run the lighting system for a popular tourist attraction & church history site called the Hill Cumorah Pageant. 
            After graduating from Salt Lake Community College in Barbering, Gary met his sweetheart, Lena Kristina Nilsson.  They were married on August 12, 1966, in the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They settled down in Taylorsville, UT where together they raised five sons who also love sports and music.  Gary found that his barbering skills came in quite handy with raising his boys.  
At first, Gary and Lena combined their musical talents with that of their sons and enjoyed doing music shows together for church and community events.  It wasn't long before Gary and Lena stepped down and the Hughes Brothers Show was officially formed in 1983. Gary and Lena helped support their sons’ budding musical career as they traveled to many places throughout the Rocky Mountain States to perform shows on weekends and during the summer. 

In addition, Gary worked hard to support the family by working several years as an independent milkman.  He owned his own franchise with Hi-land Dairy. As a skilled salesman, he gained a reputation of winning pretty much every sales contest the Dairy launched.  For 19 years Gary owned and operated a decorative concrete fence construction business called Artistic Fence Design, a business where his sons all got a chance to learn about hard physical labor.
In 1994 Gary and Lena signed a contract to bring the Hughes Brothers for the following season to Silver Dollar City, a major turn-of-the-century theme park in Branson, MO.  At this time the family made the decision to work full time in the music business.  Gary and Lena sold their home and walked away from their lucrative fence business to help their sons in their new career opportunity.  The Hughes Brothers performed the 1995 summer season at Silver Dollar City.  From there they moved on to perform in some of Branson’s most popular theatres such as the Osmond Theatre, Wild West Theatre, and Legends Theatre. In 2000, just five years after coming to Branson, Gary and his family were able to purchase their own theatre, the former Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre, now renamed the Hughes
Brothers Theatre.  “Dad was always the ‘Leader of the Band’. He started ‘it’ all,” says Son Marty. “But the thing I will always remember most is that Dad gave me his time and he wanted me there to experience what he loved most.”
            During the past 20 years in Branson, the show has grown from 5 brothers to over 50 talented family members on stage performing in both the “it” show and the “Hughes Brothers Christmas Show”.  Besides being a co-owner and operator of the Hughes Brothers Theatre, Gary ran the sound for the show for many years, became well known for his Papa Hughes Fudge, and landed the starring role of Santa Claus in the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, which his debilitating illness only caused Gary to miss two seasons.  He generally fixed whatever needed fixing in the Theatre. With his great salesmanship skills, Gary could talk just about anybody into buying a ticket to the Hughes Brothers’ Shows.  He loved serving in the family business.  As daughter –in-law Mara states, “If you were going to associate one word with Dad it would be Faith! Just look at the journey he took to get us where we are today.” Son Andy adds that “our dad served us and lived what he believed. We’re all grateful for his example in our lives.”
In 2003, after their five sons were grown and had families of their own, Gary and Lena adopted four children (three girls and one boy) between the ages of 9 and 13 from Smolensk, Russia.  This gave Gary and Lena a new lease on life with the amazing opportunity of raising a second wonderful family.
In the last few years, Gary rekindled his love of nature by pulling the family together to build a large family garden.  Daughter-in-law Vikki notes that “Dad taught me my love of gardening (especially tomatoes) and I will pass that on to my children. Both the gardening and the love of tomatoes.”  While son Adam adds, “He was my greatest friend...and I’m going to miss his sweet spirit.”
His wife Lena said, “Gary was a loving and devoted husband and father.  He served faithfully as the Patriarch of our large family.  We were all influenced for the better by his passion for life, sports, music, business, gardening, and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Even in the last couple of months, as he was laid up at home in hospice care, his faith never wavered; he rarely complained and never lost his sense of humor.”  Gary’s youngest daughter, Maria said, “Just a few weeks ago I asked, ‘How are you doing Dad?’ With a perfectly straight face, he made a fist and raised his arm straight in the air, pumping it twice, and said ‘I feel great!  Rah!  Rah!”   Son Ryan said that “living close to mom and dad, I had a lot of opportunities to help Mom care for Dad in his final two months.  It was both a privilege and an honor to serve him.”
Gary is survived by his wife Lena of Branson, MO; nine children all of Branson:  Marty (Cindy); Jason (Mara); Adam (Vikki); Ryan (Carina); Andy (Becky); Sofia; Sarah (James) Wachob; David (Shelby); and Maria.  36 grandchildren: Aaron serving a two-year full-time ministry in Tokyo, Japan;  Dallin (who will soon be serving a mission in Nicaragua); Lauren, Tulsa, OK;  The rest of the grandchildren all reside
in Branson, MO:  Kristina, Derek, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin, Kaitlyn, Kiersten, Kimberly, Amanda, Allison, Samuel, Noah, James, Jessie, Hannah, Tobler, Emeline, George, Lucy, Oliver, William, Nathaniel, Ashton, Alexandra, Jonas, Newell, Lydia, Matthew, Jonathon, Natalie, Julia, Liam, and Kaia...(and everyone of them know that there wasn’t a soul more proud of them than their Grandpa); brother Bob Arden (Arlene) of Beaver Dam, AZ; sister Lola Glaszczak of Oceanside, CA;  brother-in-law Ray (Tina) Nilsson of Murray, UT; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister Illene Spangler; brother-in-law James Hill; brother-in-law Don Glaszczak; brother-in-law Sven Nilsson; his in-laws George and Britta Nilsson; and four infant grandchildren:  Kayla, Sarah, Sven, & Tate. 

Christmas 2013
Memorial contributions may be made to “The Gary W. Hughes Missionary Fund” (benefiting young missionaries), c/o Bank of Missouri, 800 Hwy 248 Ste C, Branson MO 65616.


  1. Thoughts and prayers are with your family at this sad time. Hoping you find peace in the good memories of your dad.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful tribute to Gary with your good friends from around the world. I think Gary & Lena moved into the Taylorsville ward about the same time we did. Our children grew up together and we enjoyed those first budding talents of the "Hughes Brothers." Lena, our thoughts and prayers are with you. What a tender time you are going through. May the Lord bless you. Carol & Mel

  3. What a beautiful tribute to a model man and loving father who has shown us all what it means to really live, love, and leave a lasting legacy.

    It was a privilege to have known Gary and to have shared moments with you all years ago.

  4. This is such a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man! All my love to all of you!

  5. We come to see you in Branson every Christmas. Please accept our deepest condolences as well as our faith in the eternal Plan and the firm knowledge that you WILL see each other again. Love and Prayers from Chicago. ... Gina & Carol

  6. Thank you for sharing your Dad's life with us - he certainly set a good example for his family. May God continue to comfort you and give you peace in the coming days. May your memories of a life well lived and the love and life's lessons he taught you all give you strength to go forward and continue to make him proud.

  7. A great tribute to a great man. We will all miss him. Every time I look at the home behind us here in Utah I think of Gary, Lena and all the boys. They all grew up with our kids and we spent many hours and times together. Just looking at the cement fence between our homes reminds me of Gary and all the hard work he used to do in keeping that fence company going. I remember the productions we used to do at the church and the Hughes family was always there and who can forget the voice from Gary singing in those productions.
    So may the Lord bless the Hughes family and all the things they stand for. You are my hero's!

    Dick & Virgene True

  8. I just found out that Gary passed away in 2014. I used to live in Hawthorne, Nevada, where Gary grew up. He was a great person with a tremendous amount of musical experience. I now live in Provo, Utah. I knew his mother and father. May the lord always bless your family.

    Dennis Harris

  9. We are awaiting the opening of XOCO this week to enjoy some of the Mexican street food that will put a new twist on local ingredients. Stay tuned.
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