“The Law of the Letter,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 71
When you mail a letter, Hal Hughes will not likely process it for you, but the stamp of his approval is on almost everything the U.S. Postal Service does. Harold J. Hughes, of the Oakton Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake, has been appointed general counsel of the United States Postal Services, which means he heads up all legal activities for the service.
Hal is a quick-witted yet low-key administrator who oversees a staff of twenty-four department heads and about one hundred others in the legal department, as well as representing the 750,000 postal workers in the USPS system. He answers directly to Anthony Frank, the United States Postmaster General, and coordinates and reviews legal representation, opinions, and advice for the postal service.
While Hal’s friends and family know him for his humor and warm ways, those who confront him in his role as general counsel know of his firmness under pressure. Disputes that occur when others contend with the postal service can become hostile, but opponents find Harold Hughes’s unflappable calm almost disarming. “He seems to be in control of his emotions even when the voices of others are on edge,” says his wife, Daryl.
Hal met Daryl in 1972 when they were both students at Stanford. Shortly after that, the missionaries began teaching them. “The principles the missionaries brought us seemed familiar, rang true for us,” Hal says. “The idea of eternal progression and the whole plan of salvation answered so many questions I’d had. I had wanted to believe in a God who was a loving Father, and the missionaries introduced me to Him.”
Hal and Daryl were fellowshipped by members who have become dear friends. “The way we were loved into the Church there in Palo Alto gave us great stability,” says Daryl, who serves as stake nursery leader. “And since we’ve lived in Virginia, the ward friendships continue to be our main social circle.”
Having been a stake missionary and a Gospel Doctrine teacher, Hal currently serves in the elders quorum presidency. Greg Bishop, the other counselor in the presidency, says, “People loved attending Hal’s Sunday School and priesthood lessons. He can teach the doctrine and be profound, but he is gifted with the ability to lace everything with good humor.”
The Hugheses have three children—Cameron, twelve, Erin, eight, and Greg, four. “My family is my life,” says Hal, “and all I do in my professional and other service is for them, helping bind us closer together.”