Howard “Bud” Herron still remembers a basic philosophy of journalism that had been taught to him years earlier by his first boss, Stewart “Stu” Huffman.
“Stu put it in pretty basic terms,” recalled the former publisher of The Republic who was hired by Huffman in 1964 as a summer intern in the newsroom. “He said that when a person hears a siren go past his house, he should be able to pick up the paper the next day to find out what happened.”
Huffman, 79, who began his newspaper career as a paper boy for The Evening Republican (forerunner of The Republic) in the late 1940s and later served as editor for 14 years, died Thursday morning at Brown County Health and Living Center following a long illness.
Funeral services are pending at the Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home in Nashville.
Huffman left The Republic in 1986 to take a position as external affairs specialist in the Indiana Department of Public Instruction. He worked directly under two state school superintendents, H. Dean Evans and Suellen Reed, for 17 years until retiring in 2003.
Much of his career in journalism was spent at The Evening Republican and The Republic. He graduated from carrier to a summer internship in the newsroom in 1950. He worked summers through his college years at Indiana University and, after graduating in 1954, entered military service for two years.
He returned to his newspaper work in 1956, starting as a general assignment reporter and photographer. He won numerous awards for his work in both areas from state and regional news organizations.
“Stu figured that he could save money by living at home in those early years, but he always paid rent to his parents (Neil and Julia Huffman),” said Jane Huffman, his wife. “They saved what he gave them and later gave it back to him.”
He occupied a number of positions at the Columbus newspaper, taking on the job of news editor in 1963, graduating to managing editor in 1968 and editor, succeeding the late Robert Marshall, in 1972.
Many who worked for him regarded him as a taskmaster with high standards and expectations.
Jim Plump, now president of the Seymour Economic Development Board, recalled working for Huffman when he was a sportswriter at The Republic from 1977 to 1983.
“Stu was a unique individual,” he said. “There were a number of times when he told me in pretty blunt terms that some of my work was not up to his standards. That made me bristle a couple of times, but it also instilled in me a desire to do a better job. In the end, I came to realize that he was teaching me.”
Herron also pointed to the demands Huffman put on the editorial staff.
“He just expected things to be done right. He could make me livid, but in the end I would have to say that he was the best journalist I ever worked with. He taught honesty, and he really stressed the point that stories shouldn’t be written to accommodate the privileged,” Herron said.
While noting many of those same qualities, Randy Tucker, a retired Cummins Inc. executive who directed the company’s communications department, observed that Huffman had a strong commitment to his community and was able to provide counsel on efforts to improve Columbus.
“Stu really did love Columbus,” Tucker said. “I could always talk to him candidly on some very delicate details, and he had an uncanny ability to understand my perspective and at the same time advise me on the best ways to share information with the public.”
Huffman served on a number of community organizations in Columbus and Nashville. He was a founding member of both the River Rats and Turning Point boards. In 1985, he was selected as the grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade.
He was past president of the Easter Seals Society of Bartholomew County and the Lions Club of Brown County and served as chairman of The Salvation Army kettle campaign.
In Nashville, he and Jane were active in Nashville United Methodist Church. He also was president of Friends of Brown County Public Library and was one of the leaders in the effort to build a new library in 2000.
He served on the Indiana University Alumni Association Executive Council and was a member of the Ernie Pyle Society.
Stewart “Stu” Huffman
Born: Jan. 12, 1933, in Greencastle to Neil and Julia Huffman
Died: Thursday at Brown County Health and Living Center
Republic editor: 14 years, 1972-86
Family: He and the former Jane Allebaugh were married in 1967. They have one daughter, Amy Huffman (Jim) Oliver, and two grandsons, Abraham James and John Stewart Oliver of Nashville.
Preceded in death: His parents; sisters, Rebecca Ann Huffman Border and Martha Jane Huffman O’Dell; and brother, John William Huffman