Neil James Huff Dies; Was Retired Fisherman

Category: Obituaries
Created on Friday, 04 September 2020 15:48
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Neil James Huff

Neil James Huff, of Sitka, passed away peacefully on Saturday, August 29, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was surrounded by family, including his beloved wife JoAnn.

Neil was born Feb. 4, 1952, in Eugene, Oregon, into a family of Oregonian homesteaders, loggers, and Pacific Northwest Coast fishermen. The family frequently moved around throughout Neil’s childhood, coming to Sitka for the first time in 1952, and returning in 1958 when Neil was six years old. Neil’s father Richard worked for  Alaska Lumber and Pulp Company at the Sitka mill, and his mother Marian cared for the four children, worked for one of the local banks, and played piano for the Moose Lodge. The family relocated to Oregon in 1962, but the rugged landscape and small town life left a strong impression on young Neil.

After spending the remainder of his childhood in Seattle, Neil joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, serving as a radio technician in both Japan and Adak. He then went to live in Washington, staying near his family, as family was always the most important part of his life.

He met his greatest love, his wife JoAnn, in 1976, and began commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska in 1977, following in his father Richard’s footsteps. Neil first ran the F/V Saratoga, followed by the F/V Paula Diane, learning as he went, while JoAnn worked in Seattle as a CPA for a prominent accounting firm. Neil and JoAnn married in 1978 at Fauntleroy Church in Seattle, and the two soon traveled to the East coast to visit Ashia, his daughter from a first marriage. They then returned to Seattle and began expanding their family, welcoming son George in 1980, and daughter Erynn in 1983.

Shortly afterward the family permanently moved to Sitka, where they enjoyed being a part of the early 1980s commercial fishing community. Neil captained the F/V Rocky B, participating in the black cod and halibut derby days, fishing Chatham Strait, and became politically involved in the formation of early fishing regulations.

Neil enjoyed commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska for 28 years, eventually retiring and focusing on his growing family and projects at home. He also became more involved with the local Moose Lodge, serving two terms as governor. Neil cherished spending time with his grandchildren, traveling with JoAnn, working in his garden, playing pool and golf, and watching the Mariners and Oregon Ducks play.

Neil was preceded in death by his brother George Huff, mother Marian Burke, and father Richard Huff. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, JoAnn Huff of Sitka; children Ashia Lane and husband Daniel Gunn of Sitka, George Huff and wife Danielle Savory Huff of Portland, Erynn Huff Baird and husband James Baird of Portland; four beautiful grandchildren; his sister Carolyn Huff of Dallas, Oregon; brother Steve Huff and wife Bonnie of Seabeck, Washington; and many loved nieces, nephews, and other family members.

His legacy extends beyond his strong work ethic and go get ’em attitude — Neil was also known for his charisma, kindness, and sharp sense of humor. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the charitable organization of your choice.

 

A celebration of life potluck will be held 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, under the main shelter at Halibut Point Rec.