If you have watched any major events on CBS Sports, you have likely watched the award-winning work of Gareth Hughes, a 1997 Talawanda High School graduate. While his professional work is impressive, some of those closest to him remember his behind-the-scenes contributions.
Diagnosed with cancer two years ago, Hughes died of the disease July 30. He was 41.
CBS commentator Jim Nantz paid tribute to Hughes during the Aug. 7 broadcast of the WGC Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational golf tournament.
“Gareth brought compassion and humanity to everything he touched – his teammates or our opening to our spectator-free Master’s last November,” Nantz said. “Even after his diagnosis in 2019, Gareth continued to serve as a mentor, advocate, cheerleader and inspiration to all of us.”
Hughes was the son of John and Susan Hughes, who lived in Oxford for years. They are currently professors at the University of Vermont. His younger sister, Rebecca, is also a Talawanda High School graduate.
He is survived by his wife Amy Santamaria and two children, daughter Belle Halladay, 9, and a son Wylie, 6.
He worked as a producer for CBS Sports from 2009 until his death and worked on feature stories, “teasers” – the artistic or dramatic mini-films that run ahead of big sporting events – as well as documentaries and series/specials, according to a life-long friend Brad Burke.
Hughes won eight Sports Emmy awards in his career.
Burke remembers him not only as a friend but also from their work together on a podcast “Just Not Sports” they did from 2015 until this past April.
“We wound it down while he was still in decent enough shape to continue, and it was a joy to stay connected with him all these years,” Burke said.
Burke said he was in a Zoom meeting with people from CBS Sports shortly after Hughes died and said he was surprised by the number of those in that meeting who referred to his friend as a baker because it tied so closely to his own memories of their high school years in Oxford.
“I was flabbergasted at how many of his CBS colleagues remember him as a ‘baker.’ To me it all goes back to when he worked at the Oxford Doughnut Shoppe in high school. Gareth would sometimes work the night shift on weekends, prepping the donuts for the early morning bake,” Burke said.
They attended Talawanda High School from 1993-97. Burke said Hughes was a very active student who did everything from participate in theater to playing football and said they collaborated their senior year on a one-act play for the “Senior One Acts.”
After high school, he went to upstate New York, where he went to Skidmore College.
Hughes started working for CBS Sports in 2009 after working for the New England Patriots from 2004 to 2008.
Shortly after his cancer diagnosis, Hughes was the subject of a profile by Richard Deitsch in “The Athletic” in which he was described as having a hand in many CBS Sports projects.
Hughes won eight sports Emmys for works he produced for CBS Sports including:
· An Emmy for best documentary feature for his work on the feature-length documentary “Game of Honor,” which spent a year chronicling the players for Army-Navy football and their rivalry game.
· In 2020, after he was diagnosed, he produced this teaser/feature for CBS about The Masters tournament that was played with no spectators due to COVID. They talked to Kevin Hall, a hearing-impaired golfer (and Ohio State graduate).
· In 2019, right after he was diagnosed, he did a teaser/feature on former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who also battled cancer.
He and Burke won a Peabody award for a segment of their podcast “More Than Mean.”