Mike Hughes, president of The Martin Agency since 1995, died of cancer Sunday at age 65.
Hughes joined The Martin Agency, known for its work for Geico, UPS, the JFK Presidential Library and many others, in 1978 and served as creative director for 30 years. He was also known as an influential figure in ad education. He was the founding board chairman of one of the industry’s top ad schools, VCU’s Brandcenter–the school named the Brandcenter building “Mike Hughes Hall” for him and awarded him a Doctor of Humane Letters.
Over his career, Hughes received many industry accolades including being named to the One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame and the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.
Hughes was diagnosed with lung cancer 16 years ago and has shared his battle with the disease and reflections on his life publicly, chronicling his experience on his blog, Unfinished Thinking. Earlier this year, his doctors had given him “two weeks to live,” which he discussed on the blog–a post he ended with “tomorrow is going to be great.”
The last post on Unfinished Thinking is called An Autobiographical Obituary By The Late Mike Hughes. It begins:
“After many unexplained delays, I have finally lived up to my prognosis and have at last departed this life. It’s been a life I’ve loved.”
It goes on to address his time at The Martin Agency:
“I’m proud to have been one of the hundreds of people who put The Martin Agency on the map. We owe a lot to our clients and stockholders, of course, but no one gets in this line in front of the men and women who earned their paychecks doing things a little group in Richmond, Virginia, wasn’t supposed to be able to do. I can’t begin to list the account, planning, media, design, tech, administration, finance and business partners who have done the work for which I’ve been given so much credit. I hope they know how much I’ve needed them and how much I’ve loved them. I can’t remember the first time I said “I do work I love with people I love,” but I know I’ve said it thousands of times. Every word is true.”
Earlier, Martin Agency CCO Joe Alexander created a tribute site for Hughes called We All Love Mike, which features photos and warm wishes of friends and coworkers.
The Martin Agency will hold a private ceremony for employees on Tuesday afternoon, and plans for a public memorial service are still in the works.
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