Fortified by the Last Rites of Holy Mother Church and surrounded by his loving family, John William Huffman, aged 84, passed peacefully to his heavenly reward after a stroke at Memorial Hospital, Carbondale, Illinois.
John was born September 30, 1937 to Albert Othello and George Elizabeth (Fehrenbacher) Huffman in Olney, Illinois. He completed grade school at the two-room St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Olney where he took note of Marjorie Nix, the pretty and smart young girl who remained his love the rest of his life. After "dating" off and on through high school, John and Marge were married at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Olney on June 22, 1957 after their second year in college. They were showered with many blessings throughout their 64 years, the most special being their four children, and together created a lifetime of unforgettable memories.
Of all of his many achievements, John was most proud of his four children; Doug, Beth, Mark and Amy. Together with Marge they raised their children to be strong, independent, kind and respectful. Although each settled in a different state, the miles made little difference--John was always there. Many family vacations were spent in Carbondale and John liked nothing better than having a full house with his family around him. Kids, grandkids, dogs and chaos were always welcome. He was able to watch all four children grow into successful adults and was very proud of them all. He was always there to give a lending hand, listen and give good advice. Yes—lots of legal advice too! Each of the Huffman children live lives that are enriched by John’s work ethic, his love of family, his grit and determination, his sense of humor, his faith and dedication to others. Those qualities live on in his children and will remain his finest legacy.
John adored his and Marge’s seven grandchildren and they in turn loved him dearly. He was very proud of all their varied talents and accomplishments in their young years and as they grew to adulthood. For many years, John and Marge were able to travel to Northern and Southern California, Northern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan to visit kids and grandkids and there are many fond memories of these times.
John earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Eastern Illinois University in 1959, where he was president of the student body. After graduation, he taught senior high school history and economics in Mattoon, Illinois. But John’s dream had always been law and as a boy, he could be found at the courthouse listening to proceedings instead of attending class at East Richland High School. He fulfilled his dream and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois School of Law in 1964. During law school, John was co-editor of the School of Law newspaper and was elected School of Law class representative. He and Marge were already raising two young children and after graduating, he joined the firm of Ryan & Heller in Mattoon, Illinois where he practiced for five years.
In 1969, John returned to education and moved his family to Kent, Ohio, becoming Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs then Dean for Judicial Counsel and Special Assistant to the President for Crisis Management at Kent State University. He became heavily responsible for developing and implementing the plan for reopening the university after four students were killed in the May 4, 1970 campus demonstrations. He had a very close, personal perspective of the events at Kent State and recently gave a series of interviews to a Kent State researcher, providing important details for the documentation of the history and events at the university during that time.
In 1972, John brought his family to Carbondale, Illinois where he served as Southern Illinois University Legal Counsel and Adjunct Professor of Law prior to opening his own practice, Kimmel & Huffman, in 1978. The firm grew into what is now Gilbert, Huffman, Prosser, Hewson & Barke, Ltd. During his 41 years in private practice, John specialized in collective bargaining, labor law and education law. He served as attorney for the SIU Board of Trustees, SIU Foundation and SIU Alumni Association. He was awarded the 2003 Alumni Achievement Award for Distinguished Service and in 2018 was the first person ever to be granted the status of Honorary Director on the Board of Directors of the SIU Alumni Association. Through SIU, he taught legal courses at military bases across the country. For many years, he was attorney for Carbondale Elementary School Board. His remarkable 38 years as John A. Logan Attorney spanned the tenure of six presidents. He was well known for offering pro bono assistance to his friends, kids, and even friends of his kids. John loved his work and was highly respected because of his work ethic, vast experience and great knowledge of the law. After several failed attempts, John officially retired from his practice in 2019 at the age of 82 as Senior Law Partner.
For 49 years, John was a devout member of St. Francis Xavier Church in Carbondale. He volunteered for the Boy Scouts, Junior Sports for Boys and Girls, United Way, Education Council of 100, Archway Board of Directors and Knights of Columbus. He provided service as a hearing officer for various school boards and churches and received several civic awards including Outstanding Young Men of America and Hill House Citizen of the Year. John was a longtime Friend of Bill and in 2012 was named Judges & Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) Downstate Volunteer of the Year and was honored by special ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. He was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and remained involved for many years. He belonged to the Jackson County Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and the National Council of School Attorneys. He was an avid lifelong fan of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Abraham Lincoln.
John is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marjorie L. (Nix) Huffman; children, J. Douglas Huffman (Jill), Beth A. Huffman, Mark Huffman (Carolyn) and Amy Davis (Jeff); grandchildren, William Huffman (Christine), Andrew Huffman, John Henry Huffman (Haydyn), Lauren Warman (Philip), Jack Huffman, Joseph Huffman, and Matthew Huffman; great-grandson, Henry Huffman; and brother, Tom Huffman (Sandy).
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Albert Huffman; sisters, Georgia (Sis) Page and Martha Harrell.
John also leaves behind his beloved brothers in-law and sisters in-law, nieces and nephews, friends and longtime partners at Gilbert, Huffman, Prosser, Hewson & Barke.
Services requested by the family to be private. They would like to invite you to attend via livestream (Click here) on Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 11:00 am. A public celebration of John's life is being planned for 2022.
Meredith Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. To leave a story or memory of John, visit www.meredithfh.com.