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Andrew L. Hughes, attorney who represented Newsday for decades, dead at 91

Andrew L. Hughes, prominent labor and libel lawyer

Andrew L. Hughes, prominent labor and libel lawyer and proud father of six, passed away July 25, 2014, two weeks shy of his 92nd birthday. Credit: Hughes Family

Andrew L. Hughes, a labor and libel lawyer and Newsday's outside counsel for decades, died Friday. He was two weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.

Hughes died in hospice care in Orange City, Florida, of natural causes, his family said.

Born in Manhattan on Aug. 10, 1922, Hughes was the middle of three siblings. He attended Brooklyn College and served as a Marine in the Pacific theater during World War II. After the war, he met Mary Ellen Dunn and the two married in 1949.

He attended St. John's Law School, where he was elected editor of the law review. After graduation he joined the Manhattan-based firm Townley, Updike as an associate and was made a partner in 1961. Among the firm's clients were Newsday and the New York Daily News.

Starting in the 1950s and until his retirement in 1986, Hughes was Newsday's last defense against a libel lawsuit.

"Whenever we saw him in the newsroom, we knew something big was going on, probably another blockbuster investigation was nearing publication," said Howard Schneider, Newsday's former editor.

"He was a lawyer who totally understood the mission of journalism," Schneider said. "He saw his role as helping us keep sensitive, but vital information in the paper, not finding reasons to take it out."

Tony Insolia, Newsday's editor from 1978 to 1987, called Hughes a pleasant, industrious, honorable man with a good golf game who was a wonderful attorney.

"When you did the kind of reporting we did, you expected to be sued -- he helped us put stories in shape so that if we were sued we could defend successfully," Insolia said.

Hughes gave more than legal counsel, according to Tony Marro, the editor of Newsday from 1987 to 2003.

"He was also, as a matter of fact, a very good copy editor," Marro said. "Every now and then I'd say, 'Andy, just tell us what the law is, don't try to edit the sentence.' And he'd say, 'But I'm making it a better sentence.' "

Hughes also worked closely on the biography "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York" by Robert A. Caro, a former Newsday reporter. He also argued an appeal before the United States Supreme Court and once served former Yankees great Joe DiMaggio with a subpoena, his family said.

But his proudest achievements were his children.

"His legacy will be his love for his family," said his son Robert Hughes, of Cold Spring Harbor, the town historian for Huntington. "He led by the example of his life through hard work, perseverance, self-reliance, education and faith."

In addition to Robert, Hughes is survived by his children Andrew of Manhattan, John of Branford, Connecticut, Patty Mallon of Germantown, Maryland, and Mark of Towson, Maryland; a sister, Marion Codd, of Ozone Park; nine grandchildren; three stepchildren; and five step-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife in 1976 and his second wife, Lucie Hicks Hughes, in 2012. A son, James, died in 2009.

A funeral Mass will be said 10 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport. Interment is to follow at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Huntington.

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