Monterey Peninsula Meeting
Jack was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Samuel Alva Huffman and Ruth Dean Huffman. He died in Monterey, California after a long and patient struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his loving wife Ellie, six children, 13 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild and one sister and numerous nieces and nephews.
After spending his youth in Chicago, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, Jack arrived, aged 16, with his family in California. During World War II, Jack joined the navy, later he graduated from Cal Poly as an agricultural engineer.
In 1950 Jack suffered a motorcycle crash that put him in hospital for nearly two years. Bitter and despondent, abandoned by his then- wife, he treated the hospital staff badly, and they returned the favor with, as he put it, “the blunt needle and no pain medication “. Out of this despondence began a deep spiritual search.
Having divorced his first wife, he and Ellie married. Now mended and united, Jack and Ellie decided on adventure and travel, spending two years working in Iran. Back in California, Jack ran Achievement House, a sheltered workshop, saving it from closure. Later near Placerville he pursued his love of propagating plants, especially roses, and raising animals. He was an idea person who liked to invent practical solutions, such as a circular treadmill for the rabbit who mowed the lawn.
Jack and Ellie became Friends (Quakers) in 1955 and were members of San Luis Obispo, Berkeley, and Monterey Monthly Meetings.
For twenty years he joined in work camps at John Woolman School, where he helped build and repair everything from walkways to cabins. He also loved to teach youngsters how to dig, saw, nail, paint and use common sense to supply everyday needs. He was wiling to teach anyone who was willing to learn.
In 1970 Jack was lost at sea for six days. When his atheist companions began to despair of rescue, Jack spoke up saying, “If you were thinking of committing suicide, you’ve invited the wrong man along.” Holding up two fingers entwined, he declared, “God and I, are just like that!” They were rescued by a passing freighter and reunited with their worried families. This experience gave Jack a certain detachment. (He no longer cared that his beard was gray.)
In Meeting for Business, Jack was the one to crack a joke that cut through any namby-pamby tendencies. His clear-sighted directness and honesty saved many a discussion from lapsing into never-never land. His was the yeast that lightened the Quaker loaf. We miss him.