Beloved Bedford Hills correction officer celebrates 60 years of service
A beloved Bedford Hills correction officer celebrated 60 years of service on Friday.
Corrections Officer Ruby Hughes came upstairs to the gym at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility Friday morning, only expecting to do a brief interview with News 12 about her 60 years of service at the prison.
Once she entered the gym, though, there were over 100 people applauding her rare accomplishment.
State corrections officials, her colleagues, her friends and her two sisters were there to celebrate the milestone.
Hughes was taken aback.
"It turned out to be a party for me," she said in disbelief.
Hughes, now 82, started in 1964, making $96 a week.
She has overseen some of the state's most well-known female offenders.
They include Amy Fisher, Carolyn Warmus, Pamela Smart and Jean Harris.
Harris was facing the death penalty for killing local author Dr. Herman Tarnower in 1980, but was spared.
"She was one of those who didn't go on death row," Hughes explained. "I mean, they commuted her sentence and gave her life."
To honor her lifelong career in a field plagued by officer shortages, burnout and on-the-job danger, the acting state corrections commissioner pinned a silver oak leaf onto Hughes' Class-A uniform.
Her decision to pursue a career as a corrections officer was somewhat random.
"I just saw the article in the newspaper to take the test," Hughes said. "I took the test, and thought I'd give it a try."
The rest is history.
Hughes is glad she stayed on so long, though it was not her original plan to make a career out of this.
"I originally thought I'd be here ten years," she said, "and the time just kept flying by." This was the second time the staff surprised Hughes this way.
They held a surprise event in 2014 for her 50th anniversary, and outdid themselves this time around with a bigger ceremony.
There probably will not be a 70th.
Hughes plans to retire soon.
Even though her coworkers are likely already planning another grand gesture for that day, Hughes said it is not necessary.
"I really don't like being the center of attention," she said, laughing.