Russell B Huff passed away peacefully at home on 2/28/2020 following a long illness. He was 94 years old. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. He loved watching his sons and grandsons play baseball or football. He loved to cook. He loved nature, especially birds. He had a great interest in following the NY Yankees, college basketball tournament and would always watch the UConn basketball games.
He and his twin sister, Dora Lee, were born on 1/17/1926 in Owensboro, KY. They were born into a family of nine other children and times were hard, so he was raised for most of his childhood by a relative Clynah Lowe, and her husband, Harry Lowe, in Louisville.
By age 5 he had become recognized as an art prodigy and came to the attention of an accomplished Kentucky artist, Mary Spencer Ney, who took him under her wing. Subsequently he was studying sculpture at the University of Louisville at age 13. As a teenager one of his abstract paintings was chosen to represent Kentucky in a national exhibition of works by young artists from every state. Today his best-known painting hangs at the Leroy Anderson Foundation house in Woodbury—a large abstract painting of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite done many years ago on commission for composer Leroy Anderson.
During WWII he served in the Navy as a telegraph operator stationed in Brooklyn, NY. There he met the love of his life, Josephine. They were married for 70 years.
After the war Russ studied at the Arts Students League in NYC on the GI bill. There he became studio assistant for two significant American artists – Vaclav Vytlacil and Will Barnet. While working at the East Side Settlement House in Manhattan he was involved in bringing disadvantaged youths to Camp Stepney in CT for summer camp experiences. One day he took a ride which brought him through Woodbury, and he decided on the spot that this was where he wanted to raise a family.
Russ taught art in a variety of settings including the Roxbury school system, the Taft school and – most importantly – at the Southbury Training School. He believed very strongly that art is a natural expression of the human spirit, and that it could be an important tool for helping troubled children find meaning in their lives. At the Training School he was able to experience the validation of his beliefs in their purest form.
While at the Training School he discovered an extraordinary visionary artist, Clifford Rollins, who had been institutionalized since early childhood. At first, he was astonished by the artistic sophistication and power of Clifford’s work. Later it became evident that the numinous quality of his work was related to the fact that they were an expression of the collective unconscious. This was confirmed for Russ by the foremost American Jungian scholar, Dr Edward Edinger. While Clifford was alive Russ organized a number of public exhibits of his work – at the Woodbury Library, in Washington, CT and at the Wisdom House in Litchfield. He spent the last four decades of his life studying the symbolism and structure of Clifford’s work.
He was a follower of the ideas and teachings of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. As such, he was for many years a close personal student of Paul and Naomi Anderson – first in Brooklyn, NY and later in Conway, MA. Paul Anderson was designated by Gurdjieff as his final American Representative on his last visit to America in the 1930’s. While working with the Andersons he also met and worked briefly with another of Gurdjieff’s first rank students – the British author and polymath, J.G. Bennett.
Russ was predeceased by his wife, Josephine, and his grandson, Matthew Huff. He is survived by his three sons: Russell C. Huff and William Huff of Woodbury, and Brian Huff of New Orleans, LA; his grandchildren : Ryan Huff of Wake Forest, NC, Kelly Parisi of Oxford, CT, Sean Huff and Emily Huff of Woodbury; and his three great- grandchildren: Ava Parisi of Oxford, and Eli and Allie Huff of Wake Forest, NC.
The family would like to thank some incredible professional care givers who are also angels incarnate: Tka Thompson, Valrose Anieta Facey, Dawn Houle, and Doreen Jones of Around the Clock Homecare.
Calling Hours for Russell will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home, 2 School Street from 10:00AM to 12:00PM with a service at 11:00AM. Burial will follow services at New North Cemetery.
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