David Huff, the retired director of Traffic Education Programs at the Montana Office of Public Instruction and a former state director of student transportation, passed away on Friday after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 62.
A former school bus driver and local director of transportation, Huff served as the Montana state director of student transportation from 1992 through 1995, when he moved over to OPI's adult education unit as director. He then transitioned to traffic education, where he remained until his retirement in May of 2011. In March of 2011, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland honored Huff with an award at that year's Lifesaver Conference in Phoenix for outstanding leadership in driver education. The California State Legislature also honored him in 2011 by passing a resolution that recognized his "meritorious service to his community, his state, and his country."
In the early days of the STN EXPO, Huff was a fixture as Montana's state representative. Bill Paul, editor emeritus of STN, called Huff a friend of the magazine. Attorney Peggy A. Burns, a frequent STN contributor and owner of Education Compliance Goup, first met Huff at the STN EXPO in the mid-1990s.
"I was struck then by his kindness and generosity, and reminded of it many years later at an in-service I delivered in Montana, when he commented very favorably on my own passion and knowledge," Burns said. "David was an extraordinary person who used his personal journey with this tragic illness to inspire and enlighten those who read his CaringBridge journal. A person of importance and great light and heart has passed on."
Maxine Mougeot, another former Montana state director of student transportation and current executive secretary and treasurer of the Montana Association for Pupil Transportation, said Huff's friendship and leadership will be missed.
"He worked tirelessly his entire career to train student and adult drivers; I am sure that his dedication and love for the programs he directed has saved many, many lives," said Mougeot. "He was the one person I could always go to for answers when I was first starting out in student transportation. It was an overwhelming challenge but his calm and quiet demeanor gave me some sanity in an otherwise crazy new world (for me).
"I will miss David's friendship tremendously, but I am grateful that his earthly struggle is over."
Huff came to Montana by way of the Wyoming Department of Education, where he worked for the state's transportation program run by then state director D. Leeds Pickering. Huff was also director of transportation at the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) in Thermopolis, Wyo. Pickering said Huff demonstrated a keen interest and knowledge of special needs transportation services, and the two would frequently discuss various areas of transportation.
"A long friendship – professional and personal – began. Dave was a lifelong learner and applied this to special needs transportation," recalled Pickering. "One of the best things about him was that he loved to share what he knew with anyone interested. Dave became my go-to guy for answers in this area.
"In a word, Dave was the most positive person I ever knew. It couldn’t help but rub off on anyone he came into contact with, making this a better world."
Huff was diagnosed with brain cancer in April of 2010 and since had underwent multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.
"He struggled for a long time," Mougeot added. "I saw him a couple of months ago, and he was so thin. He doesn't have to fight anymore."
Huff is survived by wife Janis, daughter Lisa, son Scott (with wife Kirstin and their four children) and son Matthew (with wife Adrianna). He is also survived by brothers Clyde, John, Richard and Robert, and sister Elizabeth..
Viewings are scheduled for Oct. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Oct. 18 from 11 a.m. until noon local time at Twichell Funeral and Cremation Service in Helena, Mont. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18 at Neighborhood Assembly of God. Burial will follow at Forrestvale Cemetary.