Huffman worked to better the community through profession, community service – Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Dick Huffman may have seemed like a quiet man to people who first met him, but those who knew Huffman well described him as a public servant committed to helping everyone in the county.

He was also known for his compassion, his devotion to his wife, Dale, and his sense of humor, a fact proven by a conversation in January with Krista Woolly, who lives a short distance from the Huffman house in the West district. Salisbury Square.

“I have to talk to your husband because he has a lot of experience in death and this is the first time I’ve done it,” Woolly Huffman said. Woolly’s husband, Rhodes, is the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Huffman was a longtime lawyer in Charlotte and Salisbury. Here he worked for Wallace and Graham as well as operating a solo practice. He has served on the Rowan Museum Board, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Community Care Clinic Board, the Historic Salisbury Foundation and as a member of the Rowan Rotary Club. He also sat on the board of directors of Lenoir-Rhyne University, his alma mater. A native of Charlotte, he left a lasting gift to his adopted hometown by donating part of his estate to the Salisbury Community Foundation, of which he served as president.

He died on January 29 at the age of 72 after a period of declining health.

“It’s been hard on all of us, and it just seems like it was too soon for him,” said friend and neighbor Barbara Perry.

Huffman moved to Salisbury in the 1990s after being charmed by the town while participating in Octobertour. Huffman and his wife Dale fell in love with a house in historic West Square, bought it, renovated it and then showed it on the same tour that took them to Salisbury. Perry remembers empathizing with the Huffmans about the hardships of maintaining an old house.

“We shared the agony of something that needs to be fixed or broken,” she said.

The Perrys and Huffmans frequently went out to eat on weekends. They sought to patronize local restaurants as businesses began to open after pandemic-induced closings. And Perry was particularly impressed with the little things Huffman did, including thanking restaurant owners after a meal.

Their families also became attracted to each other, as neither was particularly interested in seeking attention for community service.

“We did it because we just wanted to do it,” Perry said.

Woolly said the Huffmans opened their backyard pool for neighborhood kids. In a way, Woolly said, the Huffmans were foster grandparents to the neighborhood girl group, providing popsicles to complete a trip to the pool.

“You knew they were doing it just for the kids,” Woolly said.

Lawyer Mona Lisa Wallace first met Huffman at a Salisbury Historical Foundation event, and she later asked him if he wanted to come work with her because the firm needed help in his asbestos practice. Wallace said Huffman was patient and respected in his profession.

A major professional moment was when Huffman was part of a team that tried and won the first mesothelioma case ever heard by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The case involved a secretary and graphic designer who worked at a Wake County School Board building. The courts concluded that the work environment put the woman at greater risk of contracting mesothelioma than the public due to the level of asbestos in the building.

The defense, Wallace recalled, said the secretary was only in a building containing asbestos rather than physically handling it. As a result, his exposure was not significant enough to link his medical condition directly to the work environment, the defense argued to no avail.

Huffman worked for Wallace and Graham from 1997 until 2005, when he opened his solo practice.

Alone, Huffman worked on issues such as Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and disability issues. His obituary, written by his sister Marsha Tarte, describes him as a “A zealous advocate for those who have been denied a fair life, whether through injury, medical condition, racial discrimination, or simply life circumstances.”

Ed Norvell, who also lives in West Square, said he loved having Huffman join the regular lunches of men who lived in the neighborhood. They had lively discussions on politics and other hot topics. While the group’s political views were evenly divided, they felt comfortable sharing their views. Norvell said he and Huffman often find themselves on the same side of the political divide.

Norvell said Huffman “cares deeply about the community” and “supports the rights of the oppressed” professionally as well as through his community involvement.

He was also “totally dedicated” to taking care of his wife, Norvell said. Norvell’s sentiment is universally shared by people who spoke to the Post.

“Dick was the sweetest husband in the world. He did everything for her and he was totally devoted to her,” Norvell said.

Meg Dees, who heads the development office at Catawba College, first met Huffman when she returned to Salisbury in 1999 or 2000. They got to know each other better through community organizations, particularly the Salisbury Community Foundation. Each year, the community foundation disburses hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to local organizations and nonprofits.

“He loved the idea of ​​knowing that his money could support organizations in perpetuity,” Dees said.

Although the amount was not disclosed, the Foundation for the Carolinas said in an online post that Huffman’s choice to donate part of his estate to the Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation “secures tomorrow’s vibrant future.” “.

Mayor Karen Alexander said she was honored to have served on the Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation board with Huffman.

“He loved the Salisbury Community Foundation because of its focus on supporting the most vulnerable in our community through approved 501(c)3 organizations who were responsible for the grant funds received at their request,” said Alexander.

Huffman is survived by his wife Dale, his sister Marsha Tarte and her husband Bob of Cumberland, Maryland; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Jeff and Donna Palmer of New London; and nieces Tiffany Palmer and Caitlin Hudgins.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 7 at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Visits will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Dick’s name may be made to Lenoir-Rhyne University, PO Box 7467, Hickory, NC 28603, noting “Huffman Speaker Series for Social Justice” in the note line.

Jill E. Washington