Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 18, 2012, pg. 31
We were saddened to learn of the death of Jack Hood Vaughn (1920-2012) at the age of 92 on October 29 in Tucson, AZ where he lived. Jack was one of Albionís most distinguished persons in our cityís entire history, and his public service career spanned many decades. Jack came to Albion in 1931 as a youth with his family from Montana. His father Elijah "Lige" Hood Vaughn (1891-1982) owned the Vaughn & Ragsdale Menís Clothing store chain, later known as Vaughnís Menís Wear. The local outlet was located where the Subway sandwich store is in downtown Albion.
As was the case with many Albion youth during the Depression, boxing was a passion of his. He boxed in tournaments throughout the state and eventually became a state Golden Gloves champion in 1937 in the featherweight class. Jack would spar with area boxers on the third floor of his fatherís clothing building where a makeshift gymnasium was located. He also knew my boxing uncles. He would later serve as head boxing coach at the University of Michigan in the mid-1940s.
Jack grew up on the family farm now owned by Dr. Miriam Daly west of town on Division Drive, and was a 1939 graduate of Albion High School. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1943, and later received his masterís degree there in 1948. Jackís list of educational degrees and experiences is long, and includes an honorary doctorate from Albion College.
During World War II, Jack was a rifle company commander and a combat intelligence officer in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946. He was part of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, and later attained the rank of Captain. When the War ended Jack became a professional boxer for a short period under the ring name of Johnny Hood, fighting in the U.S. and in Mexico.
Jack began working for the U.S. State Department in 1951. He served in various diplomatic posts in U.S. Latin American embassies throughout his career. Jack was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to become U.S. Ambassador to Panama in 1964. In 1965 he was appointed the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. In 1966 he was appointed as the second director of the U.S. Peace Corps, and served until 1969. Following that he became U.S. Ambassador to Columbia for a year. He also served as a president of Planned Parenthood.
My favorite story about Jack is during the 1980s at age 67 when he was in New York City. Walking down the street, a mugger tried to pin Jack and steal his wallet. Poor mugger, who had no idea who he had chosen to assault. One reference states, "The mugging attempt ended when the mugger received an elbow to the throat, several punches to the jaw, and a place-kick to a lower extremity." The incident received national media attention.
Despite his national accomplishments, Jack didnít forget Albion. Whenever he came to town he would visit friends, and also stop at the graves of his parents. They are interred in the Riverside Mausoleum. In fact, his mother Blair (Cox) Vaughn (1895-1986) was the last interment in that prominent structure. He was always concerned that the Mausoleum remained in good repair. Jack would also come and stop to see yours truly and we enjoyed talking about history. It was an honor to have pictured him in my 2002 book (now out-of-print) "Albion in the 20th Century."
Iím so glad that in 2006 the Albion High School Alumni Association honored Jack as one of its distinguished alumni that year. He gave an inspiring speech at the banquet, and we all enjoyed his presence. His name with plaque is posted on the Wall of Fame at Albion High School. We continued to correspond through the years, and he was excited about the writing of his memoirs (still unpublished) which he spoke to me about.
His recent death unfortunately was not covered in area newspapers, but did appear in national newspapers. You can go on the internet however and obtain a copy of his obituary or several biographies about him. His list of accomplishments and positions is long. Jack was one of those individuals I was honored to have met and known. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1940s-era photo of Jack Hood Vaughn, Albionís diplomat and distinguished person. How many of our readers knew Jack?
Jack Hood Vaughn (1920-2012)
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic