John Thomas Hughes died peacefully on Nov. 28. He was 99 and four months shy of his 100th birthday.

A man of wide-ranging talents and international acclaim, he was the former longtime director of the Massachusetts Lobster Hatchery and Research Station in Oak Bluffs, and had been a leading pioneer in lobster research.

On the Vineyard he also was a civic leader involved in the startup of Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, fundraising for musical instruments for the Tisbury and up-Island schools and helping to create Veterans’ Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. At Farm Neck, he was the unassuming golfer who shot four holes in one.

To his family he was the maker of the best pickles and strawberry rhubarb jam, a brewmaster, thrift shop junkie and a man who quietly loved his family. And to countless people on the street, he was the man who with a wink drew a smile from everyone when giving them a Werther’s candy.

John was born on March 23, 1922 in Oak Bluffs. He was the youngest child of A. Elizabeth Fraser and John H. Hughes, joining his sister Selma (Sally) and brother, Robert (Bob). He helped his parents operate the Oak Bluffs Bath Houses, and every day, he was responsible for filling more than 25 clawfoot bathtubs with heated seawater. In later years, John still remembered walking on Circuit avenue and hearing older men call out, in broken English, “Johnny, is the vader hot yet?”

He and his Boy Scout troop camped in the Oak Bluffs tunnel and used candles salvaged from the wreck of the Port Hunter. After the summer folks left, he and his friends jumped from roof to roof in the Camp Ground and climbed the Tabernacle’s columns. As a teenager, John was a volunteer fireman for Oak Bluffs. Later he worked in his dad’s plumbing business and the family’s ice cream parlor and restaurant, where daRosa’s is now.

He loved hunting rabbits around Sengekontacket Pond, Edgartown and Tisbury Great Ponds, and Aquinnah with Nelson and Gus Amaral, Ham Luce, Joe Francis, Stan Garland and Alpha Leonard.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served as captain of a minesweeper.

In 1947, at age 25, he completed college at the University of Massachusetts, where he majored in wildlife management, made the dean’s list and wrote his senior thesis on the American lobster. He returned home and worked in the family plumbing business.

He met Virginia Shanley, a teacher, in Oak Bluffs at Nellie Amaral’s Christmas party and wooed her while shooting rats at the Oak Bluffs dump. They married in October 1948.

In 1950, he was asked to oversee the building and operation of the first Massachusetts lobster hatchery, situated on the Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs. He become director of the hatchery and research station in 1975, and served in that role until retiring in 1984.

He was the first to successfully breed the American lobster in captivity with the goal of restocking the populations in New England waters.

During his accomplished career, he received many awards, recognitions and citations for his contributions to aquaculture. His most recent honor — at the ripe age of 90 — was the renaming of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Lobster Research Station in Oak Bluffs to The John T. Hughes Research Station. His work was widely cited, and he earned praise from his peers for his innovative and practical spirit, mentoring of young scientists and willingness to share information.

His work brought him to aquaculture conferences around the world — traveling to more than 20 different countries to consult with governments and agencies in his sea water tanks and cultivation techniques.

He appeared in National Geographic and Life Magazine, and was a guest on the 1960s television show What’s My Line?.

He explored the deeps in Alvin, the submersible that found the Titanic, consulted with Jacques Cousteau and his son Phillipe, was hosted in Tahiti by Marlon Brando, and was consulted by Julia Child when she sought guidance on the most humane way to cook a lobster.

John was predeceased by his wife Virgina and son John Jr. He is survived by daughters Patricia and her husband Hal Minis, Sally and her wife Elaine Merritt, and Ellen and her husband John Gallagher; his son’s children, Kate, Oliver and Thomas; and by his step-grandchildren, Sarah, Sophie and Mindy and their families.

A scholarship fund is being set up in his name through the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation. Donations can also be made to the Vineyard Conservation Society or Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

A celebration of his life will be held in the spring of 2022.