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Stewart Edward Huffman, of Nashville, 79, died peacefully Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, at Brown County Health and Living Community after a long battle with a rare disease, Progressive Super-Nuclear Palsy (PSP).
He is well known in the Columbus area community for his long history with The Republic (formerly The Evening Republican) newspaper where he started work as a paperboy in the 1940’s and served as its Editor from 1972 to 1986. After leaving The Republic, he continued his career for 17 years as a speechwriter and public affairs specialist at the Indiana Statehouse for two Superintendents of Public Instruction, H. Dean Evans and Suellen Reed, before retiring in 2003.
Throughout his life, Stu was an ardent supporter of the First Amendment and an activist for laws supporting open government records and meetings. He was a longtime member of the ACLU and was appointed by Governor Otis Bowen in 1979 as the first journalist member of the state Oversight Committee for the Indiana Commission on Public Records. He called himself a “Jeffersonian Democrat.”
Stu was born in Greencastle, Indiana, as the eldest son of Neil and Julia (Fulk) Huffman of Columbus who predeceased him. His siblings, Rebecca Ann Huffman Border, Martha Jane Huffman O'Dell, and John William Huffman also predeceased him. He is survived by his wife, Jane Allebaugh Huffman, whom he married in 1967, and one daughter, Amy (Jim) Huffman Oliver, and two grandsons, Abraham James Oliver, and John Stewart Oliver, all of Nashville.
Stu's father worked as a bridge builder for the State of Indiana in the 1930's and '40's, requiring the family to move to 13 towns in central and southern Indiana over 10 years. The family eventually settled in Columbus in 1943. He started his journalism career at age 11 as a paperboy in East Columbus for the Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis Times after receiving a bicycle for Christmas. He carried a notebook and a camera in his bike basket “in case he saw any news to report” and set up a darkroom in his basement.
Stu graduated from Columbus High School in 1950 where he served as editor and chief photographer of the Triangle newspaper. He received a $400 loan from the Columbus Kiwanis which allowed him to attend Indiana University where he majored in journalism and political science. He worked freelance and summers for the Columbus paper while he was editor of the Indiana Daily Student and a member of the Board of Aeons and Sigma Delta Chi. Before he finished college, he was drafted into the Army and served from 1954-56 in Heidelberg, Germany. He called himself a “heavy armored typewriter operator.” After his service, he returned to Indiana University and completed his A.B. degree in 1956.
He returned to Columbus to work for The Evening Republican newspaper where he was a general reporter and photographer. He became news editor in 1963, managing editor in 1968, and Editor from 1972 until 1986. He directed the addition of a Sunday issue in 1985, instituted “Talk with the Editor” community forums, and led the paper through significant developments in computers and technology in the newsroom. He was a mentor to many young reporters and writers throughout his career.
Stu won many professional awards from Hoosier State Press Association, United Press International Indiana Newspaper Editors (UPINE) and Ball State University. He was an active member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, president of UPINE, and served on the publications Advisory Board and Executive Committee for the Indiana University Alumni Association.
In Columbus, Stu served as a Director for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Bob Gordon Memorial Scholarship Fund, President of the Easter Seals of Bartholomew County, Chairman of the Columbus Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign, and treasurer of the Lincoln Center Figure Skating Club as well as serving on advisory boards for the Red Cross of Bartholomew County, Columbus Fireman’s Christmas Cheer Fund and the American Center for International Leadership. He was a founding member of the Mill Race Improvement Committee (“River Rats”) and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and was selected to be the grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade in 1986.
In 1987, Stu and Jane moved back to Nashville, IN, requiring Stu to commute to the Statehouse for 17 years. In Nashville, he served as president, longtime newsletter editor, and 41-year member of the Brown County Lions Club for which he was selected as a Melvin Jones Fellow. He served as President of the Friends of the Brown County Public Library and assisted in the building of the new library in 2000. He was an active member of Nashville United Methodist Church, Salt Creek Trail Committee, the Ernie Pyle Society, and Brown County Literacy Coalition. He also worked on his son-in-law’s four successful campaigns for Brown County Prosecutor.
Stu was best known in the community for hawking Lions Club popcorn at the Brown County Playhouse, his love of ATARI computers, and his generosity of time and funds for projects in which he believed. He was a grammarian who said one of his life goals was to teach others how to properly use the word “hopefully.” Stu and Jane traveled the world on 26 foreign trips throughout their marriage, sampling Europe’s beers, wines and smelly cheeses.
Arrangements are through Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home in Nashville. Visiting hours will be at Nashville United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 18, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on Monday, November 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A memorial service will be held at Nashville United Methodist Church Monday at 1:00 p.m.
Memorials in lieu of flowers are requested to be directed to Friends of the Brown County Public Library and NUMC – Boy Scout Troop and Pack 190. Stu's brain tissue was donated to the Cure PSP Foundation for research on the disease.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.bondmitchellfuneralhome.com.