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Matthew Lee McHugh – Distinguished Alum

Matthew Lee McHugh – Distinguished Alum

Matthew Lee McHugh, Chuck’s step-grandfather, was awarded Clemson’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award in 1981. McHugh grew up around Clemson, attending school in his early years on the grounds of Calhoun Mansion. HIs grandfather served as Clemson’s superintendent of construction and repairs, buying cattle for the university from farms in the surrounding area. His father was Clemson’s first engineer in the university’s power house. After each Clemson football victory, McHugh and his father would blow the power house whistle. 

Clemson was the birthplace of all of McHugh’s immediate family, and all had some link to the school. His brother, Carl McHugh, served as head coach of the swimming and diving team for 28 years. 

McHugh enrolled at Clemson during World War I. In the fall of 1918, he and his classmates reported to the campus infirmary, where Dr. Alexander Redfern, namesake of today’s Redfern Health Services building, was working. After a physical, McHugh and his classmates were put on a train to Camp Gordon, just outside of Atlanta. The war ended a few months after that, so McHugh was never sent overseas or saw any action. 

McHugh’s professional career would always be linked to the aftermath of wars. After graduating from Clemson, he began serving as the school’s director of disabled soldiers program. By the end of his career in 1962, he had served veterans from two world wars and developed a VA regional program that was the envy of the nation. “Communication. Letting your people know what’s going on. Making sure they feel a part of your organization. That’s the way to get results if you’re a manager,” he said. “I always told my employees that they were the best assets our organization had, and I meant it.”

McHugh also spent time researching his family history, authoring several books on the subject and history of the state of South Carolina. In his work “The Class of 1919”, the year McHugh graduated from Clemson, he examines facts, statistics and stories from the 100-man class that graduated Clemson that year. At a reunion in 1980, he was elected vice president of his class and remained active in alumni support of Clemson. 

Finally, McHugh served as a Thomas Green Clemson Associate and was considered a patriarch of the Clemson Family.