Dave Huff, one of Corbin most prominent citizens, passed away Saturday at a Lexington hospital at the age of 85.
Huff was probably best known as founder of Huff Pharmacy, originally located in downtown Corbin, but later moved to Cumberland Falls Hwy. before its sale and closure in 2007.
“He was my best friend in the world, and a mentor to me and a true gentleman,” said Don Creech, pharmacist and owner of Creech and Gibbs Pharmacy in Corbin.
Creech originally worked for Huff starting in 1980 when Huff bought out Begley Drug, then was a business partner with him in the formation of Huff Pharmacy in 1993.
Creech said Huff was so popular and well liked in Corbin, that he would have named his current business Huff Pharmacy if he could have.
“He always wanted to take care of people and always wanted to do good things,” Creech said. “Anytime you saw him, he had good things to say, and he encouraged you and made you want to put your best foot forward. That’s just how he was. There’re not enough good things you can say about the man.”
Despite his deep affection for Corbin (he’s even a member of Corbin Varsity Club Hall of Fame), Huff was actually a native of Cumberland, and moved to Hazard after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy in 1956. It was when he saw a business opportunity and broke into the pharmacy business in downtown Corbin, that he decided to move his family to the town he’d eventually call home for good.
Huff’s involvement in Corbin was prodigious. He was a Little League baseball coach, coached youth league basketball and football, was a member of the Lion’s Club, served on the City Utilities Board of Commissioners, served as Treasurer of the Cumberland River Mental Health Board; was on the board of directors of several local banks and Baptist Regional Medical Center.
Huff was often admired for his success and business acumen among his peers. He was awarded the Tri-County/Corbin Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“He was a good friend and a man of integrity and good judgment,” said Forcht Group of Kentucky Founder and Chairman Terry E. Forcht. “We served together on the Bank of Columbia Board of Directors for many years, and we were partners in commercial real estate. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.”
Besides his pharmacy businesses, Huff was also very active in real estate with Central Automotive Supply owner David Myers. The two started a company, Kentucky Lodging and Development, best known for ownership of the property of a string of local discount stores.
Beyond just his professional life, Huff was known for generous, but low key acts of kindness.
“He was a really compassionate person,” said Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney.
“He touched a lot of people’s lives in a positive way, and a lot of it was not really publicly known. He will be truly missed by a lot of people.”
James David Huff, Huff’s oldest son, described his father as compassionate, devoted and principled.
“He was the best dad you could have,” he said. “If any of us had any kind of sporting event or activity, he was always there. He never missed anything any of us had going on.”
“He just taught us a lot of life lessons about how to treat people and how to be kind,” Huff’s son added. “He’d always say, you are as good as anybody, but better than nobody. Those are the kind of things that stuck with me.”
Huff said he remembers fondly the famous “roundtable” of his dad’s friends and customers, who used to gather at the pharmacy daily to talk about politics, sports or whatever.
“They would all come in and sit at the table and tell stories. It was a real meeting place,” Huff said. “My dad loved that. He was a real people person.”
One of Huff’s most passionate commitments during his life was his devotion to Cumberland College — now the University of the Cumberlands. He served on the school’s board of directors for over 40 years. He attended UC for two years as an undergraduate and played basketball for the school.
“He always had a soft spot in his heart for Cumberland … he was always looking for ways to help the college do better,” Huff’s son said. “He wanted to make sure it was always a great place for kids to go to school.”
In the last few years Huff’s health had declined. He had heart issues, and struggled with debilitating pulmonary fibrosis.
Not long before his death, Huff’s son said his father revealed to his church pastor something that ultimately helped to take away the sorrow felt by his passing.
“The thing that gives you a lot of comfort is that dad told him that he wanted him to know he loved his life,” Huff’s son said. “It was something he really meant. He loved his life and the people he touched.”
Funeral services were held for David Huff Tuesday at First Baptist Church. He was laid to rest at Cumberland Memorial Gardens.
For a full obituary, see page B-5.