Cover photo for Arlene "Joyce" Hughes's Obituary
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1957 Arlene 2022

Arlene "Joyce" Hughes

May 8, 1957 — September 23, 2022

Arlene Joyce Hughes, 65, of Laveen, died at home surrounded her loved one and puppy. She was born May 8, 1957, in Santa Cruz Village, to Mr. Sibley Lee Hughes and Ms. Viola Ruth Jose. She was known to family and friends as, Joyce. She had a heart of gold and a beautiful soul. Ms. Hughes was a tireless educator and cultural preservationist. She taught traditional perspective and principles, learned from her family and elders. Joyce was a humble leader in the Gila River Indian Community. She had been instrumental in the preservation of her community’s language. In 2007, she became the Gila River Indian Community’s first culture coordinator. She was an important part of the effort to develop an alphabet system for her tribe’s language. She was a huge advocate in furthering your education. And believed everyone could achieve it. Tradition has always been her way of life; she was Royalty for Ms. Gila River in 1982. Joyce cared for everyone’s children as her own, helping raise them and instilling those traditions passed on to her. She was a mother to all. Her memory will continue to live on through her family and her community, who loved her dearly. “I would rather just talk O’otham.”-Arlene Joyce Hughes


Survivors include, her children, Carly, Regina, Aaron and Brenda Jackson, Wesley Peters Jr., Anna M., Michael Jr., Michaela Ortiz, Oscar and Delores Brown, Nichole Ballderrama, Frances Saiza and Andy Begay and 3 grandchildren.

She is preceded in death by her parents, 3 sons, Emmett Hughes, Bradley Peters, Alexander Ortiz, and 5 brothers, McDonald, Richard, and Stanley, Edward and Basil Hughes, and a sister, Wanda Hughes.


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