July 25, 1931-Dec. 10, 2011
Long time Pagosa resident, Bob Huff, departed this world on Saturday, Dec. 10,with his wife by his side.
After moving to Pagosa Springs 23 years ago, Bob became an active member of the community. He was a member of the local Rotary Club, serving as president of that organization in 1997-98. He also served on several boards, including the Upper San Juan Health Service District and Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Foundation Board, the Archuleta County Planning Commission, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the Citizens Bank Board of Directors.
Bob is perhaps best remembered for his writing and reciting of cowboy poetry. He published two books of poetry and became well known as a cowboy poet throughout the state and region.
Bob kept a few horses and grazed a few cows each summer on his Little Bit Ranch. He spent endless hours as a volunteer for the local Forest Service district. He deeply loved the high country and helped pack in trail crews, maintain trails and monitor leased grazing allotments. His poetry — sometimes humorous, often thoughtful, but always truthful — reflects the connection he felt with the San Juan Wilderness.
After growing up on a small farm in Kansas and receiving a scholarship at the University of Kansas, Bob started his career as a biology teacher at Punahou Academy in Honolulu, Hawaii, with his wife, Mary Ann, at his side. After receiving a doctorate in educational administration at the University of Oregon, Bob embarked on a series of moves that took him and his family to a number of college towns across the country. He became a sought-after higher education administrator and teacher. Among other positions, Bob was associate director of the National Center for Higher Education Management systems, professor of higher education at Virginia Tech University and executive secretary of the Board of Educational Finance in Santa Fe, N.M. He served as associate vice president of academic affairs at Arizona State University and as executive director of the Arizona University System Board of Regents. Bob served on the governor’s cabinet in Arizona and represented Arizona on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.
He completed his busy career by returning to Arizona State University as a tenured professor and, in 1989, Arizona State named Bob Professor Emeritus.
Bob led a modest, calm and untroubled life. In many ways he was a man “before his time.” In the late 1950s he took a survival training course, learning how to live off the land. Before it was trendy, Bob loved to cross country ski, play and coach tennis, fly fish, go backpacking and, when he was 50 years old, he ran the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. But perhaps where Bob felt most at one with nature was on top of a good horse.
Bob considered himself a fortunate man. He had the love of a life partner for 58 years, his wife Mary Ann. He had a couple of good children, a couple of wonderful granddaughters and some good horses. He was a trusted mentor to many people in ways he knew and in ways he sometimes never knew.
Memorial services for Bob Huff will be held this spring. The date, time and other specifics will be announced in The Pagosa Springs SUN.
This is Bob’s final poem, for his family and friends.
The View from the Top
It’s been my nature to explore.
On a high country ride,
Climbing up a mountain ridge,
What’s on the other side?
In every part of life,
Adventures without end.
I always want to know,
What’s just around the bend?
I want to see God’s plans,
Whatever they may be.
What’s in that great beyond?
What is God’s plan for me?
And now it’s time at last,
My earthly ties to sever.
On top of this final hill,
I now can see forever.