March 18, 1931 – October 3, 2022
Jack Vern Huffman, resident of Eastsound, Orcas Island, passed away peacefully at his home on October 3, 2022, at the age of 91.
Jack was born on March 18, 1931 in Larned, Kansas, to parents Vernon and Evelyn Huffman. It is remembered that his first spoken word was “airplane.” Moving with his parents to Talkeetna, Alaska, they then moved to their homestead of 40 acres outside Anchorage, Alaska in 1948. He was a member of the Alaska Yukon Pioneers of Anchorage High School and the Anchorage Masonic Center.
In January 1951, Jack began attending the University of Washington, but then enlisted in the Navy the following month, and then attended electronics school at Treasure Island, California. During this time he met his future wife Nancy Simpson in Napa and were married on April 25, 1953, in Mare Island, California. Discharged from the Navy in 1955, they joined his parents at the homestead, where Jack worked at KENI television as a cameraman. Next moving to Napa, Jack received an associate’s degree from the University of California Berkley and worked at both KEWB and KCBS radio stations.
Accepted into Federal service with the Federal Aviation Administration, Jack and his family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in July 1960, followed by Anchorage in 1967, and then to Southern California in 1973. A life-long instrument and commercial-rated pilot, he was very active in the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), becoming President of Chapter 49 as well as being a technical advisor for many home-built aircraft in the area. Jack served as a mercy flight pilot for many years, providing vital medical transportation for many Orcas Island residents. In 2019, Jack was presented with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot award, recognizing his outstanding record of safe flight operations continuously for more than 50 years.
Jack and Nancy fell in love with the San Juan Islands in 1998 and moved to Orcas Island to retire and build Nancy’s second self-designed dream house in 2001. Jack enjoyed many friendships on the island and was beloved by friends and family as a wonderful storyteller with a great sense of humor and love of life.
Jack is survived by his daughter Marji and husband Phil Plessinger of Fairbanks; son Robert Huffman and wife Tracy Mathieu of Washington, DC; sister Suzie Smith of Palmer, Alaska; grandson Steven and wife Lauren, their children Jackson, Mira, Emilia, and Emory; grandson Eric Huffman and wife Baylee, their children Kash, Kennedy; grandson David, the eldest grandchild, his wife, and Jack’s five great-granddaughters through David and a great, great granddaughter; grandson Michael, his wife and two great-grandchildren; Amber Plessinger and as Jack would say “favorite” (only) granddaughter, her son and husband, carrying on the Huffman tradition of homesteading in Alaska. Jack was preceded in death by his parents and wife Nancy.
Services with Military Honors were held at the Orcas Island Woodlawn Cemetery on Oct. 7, 2022 at 2 p.m. with a reception held at the Huffman family home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Hospice of the Northwest at https://www.hospicenw.org/ or the Orcas Island Mercy Flights https://www.portoforcas.com/mercy/ . To share memories of Jack, please visit www.evanschapel.com/obituary/jack-huffman.