Thomas A. Huff

Huff—Thomas A. Huff, 87, on November 13, 2016, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Tom was born on December 24, 1928, in San Diego, Calif., to Miriam Pool and Melvin Huff. His family lived in China, Hawaii, and several places in Northern California when he was young. He developed an early interest in music and in service, inspired by a Presbyterian Youth Camp minister at 14 and 15 and by the local Methodist minister. Attending camp also led to a summer choir school, and in college at Stockton, Calif., he sang in a choir and became active in the Student YMCA/YWCA. After two years of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a conscientious noncombatant, recruiting soldiers with musical ability to play in the band, in which he played clarinet. He returned from the army to earn a master of divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley in 1959 and served as an assistant minister at San Leandro Congregational Church.

During this period, he met and married Caroline Carpenter, and in 1959–1962 he worked with the YMCA at Mississippi State University, helping students understand the civil rights issues of the day and encouraging dialogue and discussion. Then until 1980 he led students in providing community service and leadership at California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of Pittsburgh YMCAs. He took a group of students to the Philippines to develop a school, and in 1970 co-founded a progressive alternative high school.

In 1980 his receipt of a master’s in counseling led to a job as director of admissions at Poughkeepsie Friends School, and he joined Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Meeting in 1982. His marriage to Caroline ended during this time, and later in 1982 he moved to California’s East Bay Area, becoming admissions director at Holy Names College and joining Strawberry Creek Meeting in Berkeley.

In 1992, he met Barbara Downs, and the following year they moved to Hawaii, where Barbara had lived for 20 years and raised her family. They married under the care of Honolulu Meeting in 1994. Transferring his membership to Honolulu Meeting in 1999, he served on the Worship and Ministry, First-day School, Nominating, and Meeting for Healing Committees and as treasurer. He also worked to inform military service members of their rights regarding conscientious objection.

He enrolled in the ESL master’s program at University of Hawaii and went on to teach English as a second language at Hawaii Pacific University. He enjoyed his book club, singing in the Honolulu Symphony Chorus, and swimming at Queen’s Surf. A good husband and father and a man of integrity, he had a twinkle in his eye and a great laugh and enjoyed good company and good conversation. He was given to spontaneously singing snippets of pieces the symphony chorus was performing.

Tom was preceded in death by a daughter, Stephanie Huff, and his sister, Margaret Jean Cooper. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Downs; one son, Brian Huff (Phyllis); Barbara’s children, Paul Downs and Kristin Corzine (John); two grandchildren; one step-grandchild; and two nephews, David Cooper and Steve Cooper.

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