Legends, every culture, generation and possibly every enlightened person has at least one. Legends are created. They are typically unauthorized and unauthenticated and embellished stories passed on through oral tradition. And they become greater with time.
Legends stand out, apart and unappreciated during their lifetimes. For some weird reason, society tends to wait until death to process and acknowledge greatness. With some rare occasions, monuments are made (and some stupidly torn down) posthumously. Postage stamps, street names, building names, sections of highway names, too. We give flowers when they can no longer be smelled.
There are legends and there is Nick Huffman. A local native who died last week, who is a legend in every sense of the word. Many people may not know him. Many may know of him. Others, including myself, may feel we knew him. But part of his legend will be that no one really knew Nick, except maybe his mother.
Nick Huffman will be known for many things. He was a prankster extraordinaire of legendary, authenticated stuff. He was an outspoken character who did not hold back when he thought something was pure BS. He was a funny guy, a businessman, an artist, daredevil. Again, all well documented. But he was more, especially to those he allowed to get a little closer to him than to his perfectly crafted public persona.
Nick Huffman was a very intelligent person. I am one of the fortunate few who received late night/very early messages to give him a call. And every call began the same way. “Hey. I’ve got this idea I want to run by you and you can tell me if I’m crazy.” He knew and I knew at that moment, it was a crazy idea. After an hour or more of explaining his idea, he’d ask, “So, what do you think?” And the only reasonable reply would be, “Well, it is crazy and it would be impossible for anyone to try except you.”
And the next thing you know, the crazy idea would become a reality.
He was a genuinely caring soul, especially when it came to children. Most of what he did for the benefit of children was never made public. His motto was that children deserved to have fun, be cared for and to be protected. He felt every kid deserved a bed, a full stomach, a bike, a fishing pole and a safe place to play. “Is that too much to ask for?” he would ask.
His family and friends were important to him. He would do anything by any means necessary to support and protect them. His thinking was, “Laws are good and necessary for society, but laws aren’t made for protecting yourself and the ones you care about. You shouldn’t have to think to protect yourself.”
The thing that separates Nick Huffman from the many legends I have read about or whose phenomenal feats I have witnessed, is that it is all recorded. Nothing embellished. Someday when someone tells a story of Nick climbing Mount Rushmore to wipe the noses of all four presidents, believe it. No one will be able to exaggerate when it comes to Nick Huffman. As the days and years go on, his local legacy will grow. And deservedly so.
Underneath that gruff physical and verbal façade, was a really great person to his family, friends, community and strangers. Upon hearing about his early morning death, all I could say was, “This is BS.” Because that is what Nick would have said.