Robert Huff peacefully passed away at the age of 95 on Friday, August 18, 2023 with loving family at his side.
Robert, or Rob as he liked to be called, was born on May 1, 1928 to Clarence and Patia (Moores) Huff. He grew up in Strong, Maine and graduated from Strong High School on June 12, 1945 in a graduating class of 7. He played the trombone in the band and loved playing basketball. He furthered his education enrolling in Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston to earn his Bachelor of Technology in May 1949. In 1999 Rob was inducted into the Wentworth Institute’s Black and Gold Society.
On November 11, 1950 he married the love of his life Nancy Hays in the First Congregational Church on Norwich Hill in Huntington, Massachusetts. One of Rob’s greatest accomplishments of his life was raising their four lovely children, Bonnie, Gary, Dana and Randy.
Rob started his construction career with Hydro Dredge out of New Bedford, MA building breakwaters off the coast of New England. He later moved to Norwich Hill and worked for a number of prominent contractors to name a few; Virgilio Construction in Pittsfield, Daniel O’Connell Companies in Holyoke, Fontaine Brothers in Chicopee, JF White in Stow, MA, Gagliarducci Construction in Springfield, and White Flaherty and Sands Joint Venture. Some of the projects he worked on include the Residential Towers and the Fine Arts at UMass Amherst, Route 391 through Chicopee, Route 91 from Northampton through Greenfield, Westover Air Base in Chicopee, Texon Paper Mill in Russell, Bondi Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in Agawam, Stanley Homes Office Building off Western Ave in Westfield, Art Cement in Wilbraham, and the Gill/Montague Elementary School in Montague.
Rob loved working with his hands and with wood. In 1955 he built their first home on Tucker Road, Norwich Hill on land he and Nancy purchased from Burt Wood. He and Nancy teamed up towards the end of Rob’s construction career building log homes, Nancy sold them, and Rob built them. During that time they moved from Norwich Hill to Worthington and built a beautiful two story log home off Kinnebrook Road. When the winters got to be a little more than Rob and Nancy wanted to handle, they built another stunning three bedroom ranch in Wilmington, North Carolina just a short distance away from the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Fear River. When Nancy’s health started to decline, they decided to move to Orefield, Pennsylvania closer to son Randy and wife Judy in nearby Fogelsville. They purchased Judy’s parent’s home and once again Rob and Nancy decided to add on, and they built a lovely four season sun room, which made a wonderful addition to their last home.
Rob was involved with his community as well, he ran for and was elected to the Huntington School Committee one of the seven towns that governed the Gateway Regional School District. With his construction and engineering background, he played an important role in expanding the High School complex adding the Middle School building along with a state of the art cafeteria and kitchen. Nancy became the head baker once the new addition was finished.
Rob loved building so much he did a lot of “handyman” work for friends and neighbors. He would remodel kitchens and build all the cabinetry, he rebuilt fireplaces and chimneys, he replaced roofs, he laid masonry block foundations and he bought and flipped homes before that was even a term. These “odd jobs” allowed him to employ a lot of local men that needed the extra income. He was a great teacher for his children as well, showing them the ropes of building literally from the ground up.
One of our fondest memories is that on Sunday morning in the summer he would take Bonnie, Gary and Dana, all under the age of 6, fishing and would carry one on his shoulders, one on his back and one would walk to his favorite brook fishing spot about 1 1⁄2 miles off the roadway through the woods on an old logging path. When the one that was walking got tired, he would switch whoever was on his shoulders or back and continue the journey also carrying four fishing poles, worms and snacks. He would set us up with worm on the hook, hooks in the water then he would try to get his own hook baited and in the water, which was probably way less than he wanted, because inevitably one or more of us would either get a bite and jerk the hook up into the tree branches above, sometimes with a brooky attached, or one of us would slide down the rocks into the brook and he would have to get us back on shore. He had the patience of Job! It just showed how much he loved being with his children and fishing. Another fishing story was he took Gary, Dana and Randy deep sea fishing off Point Judith Rhode Island on what was probably the worst seas we have ever been on. Randy got so seasick that he spent the entire time “feeding the fish” off the back of the boat and never got to fish. We do remember that we came home with our limit of Cod, which was to Nancy’s pleasing.
Rob was also one to deer hunt. He shot his first deer on Day Mountain in Strong Maine at age 16. He and his dad were so proud of the 8-point buck that they had the head mounted and that mount proudly hung on the wall in every one of their homes. Rob was so proud of his heritage that one Fall he took Gary and Dana deer hunting in Maine on his old stomping grounds. It was a wonderful trip and we learned a lot about where dad came from, and of course he made us hike up Day Mountain to show us where he shot his first deer. We would hunt with dad when we lived in Huntington, and he shot another 8-point buck there as well. The kids decided to have the head mounted and it too proudly hung on the wall next to his first deer.
Camping was another favorite activity of Rob’s. He and Nancy took the family on a lot of trips from Virginia to Canada. After spending several season getting flooded out in a tent, they bought a pop-up camper. Rob made a huge campers kitchen that would slide into the camper and got placed on the picnic table with everything we needed for cooking; pots, pans, plates, dishes, silverware, you name it, it was in the campers kitchen, of course it was built out of wood!
Gardening was another love of his life. Honestly, he had one of the biggest gardens we have ever seen. When it was time to harvest peas, of course they were not the edible pod type, so they had to be shucked, we would sit for hours shucking grocery bags of peas! He also did not like weeds, so we would spend many hours while dad was at work weeding his garden so when he got home, he didn’t have to do that. When Rob wasn’t vegetable gardening, he was either tending to his prize red roses framed by the split rail fence or the red geraniums on the front porch. Now you know why we all love gardening he was a great teacher.
Rob was the youngest and is the last of his siblings whom all predeceased him; Kendall, Rowena, Mildred and Birchard. The love of his life Nancy passed away on January 22, 2016 and his youngest son Randy passed away on May 2, 2020, he is now rejoined with all of them and his loving parents Clarence and Patia. He is survived by daughter Bonnie Chandler Schieb and husband Mike of Chicopee, MA, son Gary of Russell, MA, son Dana and wife Lynn of Alton, NH, and daughter-in-law Judy (Meagher) Huff of Fogelsville, PA. Rob is also survived by grandson Evan, granddaughters Maura and Kirsten, grandson Cameron and great-grandson Logan, and many nieces and nephews.
The family intends to have a memorial service with the family in mid-October at the Huntington Cemetery off Littleville Road next to Gateway High School where Rob will be laid to rest with his loving wife Nancy. Arrangements have yet to be determined.