Sterling was born in Dale County on July 30, 1937 to Houston and Hettie Snell Hughes. After graduating from Ozark High School in 1955, he attended Auburn University from 1955 to 1959. Mr. Hughes was employed for 32 years by B.F. Williams Construction Co. as a civil engineer and superintendent, and by the City of Ozark almost 13 years as Director of Public Works. Since his retirement, Sterling spends his spare time with his squirrel dog, “Trouble”
Mr. Hughes married Shirley Triplett Thornton on July 1, 1978. They have 6 children, 5 sons and a daughter, 6 grand children and 2 great-grand children. Sterling joined the Asbury United Methodist Church in 1946 and has been an active member since that time. He taught the Young Adult Sunday School Class for 15 years, served as the Treasurer of the church for 12 years and was the song leader from 1968 until 1994. Sterling currently is a member of the Sunday morning choir, member of the Finance Committee, Chairman of the Church Council and the lay delegate for the church to the Alabama West Florida Annual Conference.
Sterling is a Past Worshipful Master of the Clinton Masonic Lodge #287 in Skipperville, AL where he was initiated an Entered Apprentice on February 9, 1966, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on March 9, 1966, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on April 28, 1966. He belongs to both the Scottish Rite and the York Rite bodies in Dothan, AL.
Sterling joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Dothan, AL in 1970, invested with the rank and decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1985 and coroneted a 33° Inspector General Honorary in 1989. He has served also as Director of Works, Head of all Bodies, and Personal Representative of Karl Reed, SGIG.
After joining the York Rite Bodies of Dothan, AL in 1994, he has served as Past Illustrious Master, Past Commander, Past High Priest and Past Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons of the State of Alabama. He is also a member of Allied Masonic Degrees (Past Sovereign Master), Red Cross of Constantine (Sovereign), S.R.I.C.F., York Rite College (Purple Cross), Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest and Knight of York Cross of Honor (K.Y.C.H. ). He is also a member of the National Sojourners and the Royal Order of Scotland.
Sterling has served the Masonic Lodge of the State of Alabama as Junior Grand Deacon (1991¬1992 ), Grand Marshall (2001-2002 & 2006-2007), Junior Grand Warden (2008-2009 ), Senior Grand Warden (2009-2010), Deputy Grand Master (2010-2011 ), and elected and installed as Grand Master on November 16, 2011.