Emeritus, In Memoriam
Ada Hughes was born in Ohio, the first-born child of James Shepard Hughes and Louisa Wilcox Gatten. Ada had six siblings. By 1870, the family moved from Ohio to Indiana and then to Redwood City, San Mateo County, CA in 1877. Ada received most of her formal education in San Francisco Bay area of California.
Ada married David Russell Coldwell between 1880 and 1885. The couple lived in Whatcom County, Washington in 1885, but moved back to the Bay area (Alameda County) by 1886. David Russell was a druggist. He died at age 33 in 1895 and was buried in San Mateo County. Ada’s life changed dramatically. She would dedicate the remainder of her life to being an educator and a major pioneer teacher & leader at San Diego Teachers College.
She began her career as a grade school teacher in the Bay area (1885-1899). She studied in Europe and taught as an art teacher in grade and high school between 1900 and 1906. She studied at the Columbia University (Domestic Science program) and then started her career at the San Diego Normal School in June 1907 as a teacher in Household Arts.
She became the first Department Head of Household Arts (Home Economics). Course work included basic courses in foods, cooking, and nutrition (dietetics). She later assumed the additional role of Dean of Women, a position she held until her retirement in 1931. She was held in high esteem by her students as evidenced by their recognition of her contributions in the 1931 Del Sudoeste Student Yearbook.
Ada lived the remainder of her life in California. By 1936 she lived in Santa Barbara. She passed away in December 1944 in Santa Barbara.