I lost a dear friend recently, the community a local legend.
You knew him as Dale Huffman, writer for the Dayton Daily News covering just about any and everything going on in his beloved Miami Valley.
I knew him as ‘Huffy.’
There was much more behind the name in the byline.
He grew up in Miamisburg, could of gone on to bigger and better things, but decided early on to be ‘a big fish in a little pond.’
Upon news of his passing many memories flowed like the Great Miami River after a heavy rain, some which I can’t share in print, but maybe in a book one day.
I first met Dale while working at Access Dayton, now DATV, public access station in Dayton on Time-Warner Cable.
At the time my boss Roxie Cole was trying to legitimize the channel where ordinary citizens use TV equipment to present their take on issues of the day, happenings in neighborhoods, fairs, festivals and the like.
Roxie thought Dale could host some cable shows and hopefully write about it in the paper.
It gave the fledging channel a boost.
Dale became a major part of the early goings on and volunteered his time in front of the camera, many of those programs I produced.
Later as my career continued at Channel 2 and eventually on-air, Dale became a trusted mentor and confidant.
After one of my ‘Bucher’s Beat’ segments aired he’d call and talk for hours on end, he critiqued me, offered suggestions on storytelling, most times he was right on point.
We teamed on many stories, he in print me on TV.
One that we both loved to do was of course his idea. Buch, lets document the life of the first baby born in the new millennium, follow this child on their journey of life.
Dale and Jim’s Y2Kid was a yearly favorite which continues here in the paper.
One very special story we tag teamed on turned out to have ‘legs,’ or should I say feet of its own.
Remember the MetroParks DUCKS, the amphibious vehicles offering tours on land and the river?
Well, as we hit the water it rushed in and drenched Dale’s socks.
He took them off and hung them out to dry on the back railing when suddenly a gust of wind caused one to go airborne.
He wrote about it, and I broadcasted the MIA sock.
Next thing you know we had search teams out, people wrote funny antidotes, and someone even wrote a song about the excursion, but the best part was Dale’s idea.
He asked his readers and my viewers to donate socks to the local homeless shelters.
The fine folks here took it one step further, gathering not only socks, but hats, gloves and scarves. At last count the collection reached in the thousands.
All because his lone black sock decided to go AWOL.
That’s how he was. A go with the flow, unpredictable kind of guy.
After hours we’d solve the problems of the day unwinding at the old Moraine Embassy next to the newspaper’s former location on Ludlow Street
For a time we were next door neighbors on Riverview Terrace in Dayton.
Then eventually Dale moved back to his hometown in Miamisburg sharing a home with his mother ‘Mama Kay.’
We shared many dinners, playing pinochle at our home and his. We were family.
Remember many times we’d meet for lunch and walk around downtown.
People on the street begin to smile when they saw Dale greeting him with a hearty handshake, pat on the back and a ‘Hi Dale, read your column every day.’
This turned out to be our inside joke because at the time he was writing three columns a week. (Later though it was daily for a record breaking five years in a row. Now that’s a lot of writing.)
There are many more ‘Dale’ stories too numerous and I’m running out of space, but these few days since his passing friends asked how do you think he’d like to be remembered?
That in itself could be the subject of a book, but I would say as a writer, author, humanitarian, cheerleader for our area, veteran, helping those less fortunate by handing out money, I witnessed this many times, and of course personally the godfather to my daughters. But most important he was a helluv a friend. For that I will cherish the rest of my life.
Godspeed ‘Huffy’ until we meet again and here’s hoping you found your missing sock. Cheers and love you brother! – Buch