Monday, July 07, 2008


Robert L. Huddleston, Sr. - 1928-2008

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this. My grandfather, whose name I carry as his only grandson, passed away on Thursday evening in Amherst, Massachusetts. He would have turned 80 this upcoming November.

Grandfather Huddleston was the 8th generation of Huddleston's in America, tracing back to the first Huddleston born in the Colonies, Henry Huddleston, born in 1667 in Bucks, Pennsylvania. Grandfather gave years of service to the United States Army, serving during World War II (resulting in my father being born in Germany in 1955) and eventually working on ballistics at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland. A Virginia Tech alum, he often enjoyed heading to homecoming games in Blacksburg to cheer on his Hokies.

Grandfather and Grandmother lived for decades in Churchville, Maryland, until his Alzheimer's became too much for the family to manage on our own. They moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, where my aunt, Rebecca Sinos, is Chair of the Classics Department at Amherst College.

We were told by the doctors last Wednesday that it was likely that Grandfather would not make it through another two weeks. The next day, my father and mother flew to Amherst on a pre-arranged trip to visit with my grandparents. As if he were waiting for them to arrive, Grandfather passed only about 15 minutes after my parents arrived at the care center.

Grandfather left a lasting impression on my life. It was from him that I developed my love for tennis. Grandfather and Grandmother Huddleston were outstanding tennis players, even up to recent years. The tennis court at their Churchville residence was where I honed my skills as a junior player. I still have memories of clearing snow off of that court so that we could play in late December one year when I was in high school. I can state for a fact that I would not have had the success that I had - certainly not reached All-American status in high school - without my Grandfather's guidance in the game.

I also gained a love and respect for the game of baseball from Grandfather. Living in the area where Cal Ripken, Sr. was so prominent, Grandfather was a huge Orioles fan. I remember spending many a day at old Memorial Stadium watching some good O's teams and some lousy O's teams play. Grandfather hated it when Peter Angelos moved the games from the convenient Memorial Stadium to the downtown but inconvenient Camden Yards. He vowed never to attend a game there. He eventually did, but only because I so wanted to go. One of my most cherished memories was the last Orioles game that I attended with Grandfather in August of 2001. We wanted to say good bye to Cal Ripken, Jr. (who was retiring at the end of the year), so I purchased tickets on the 3rd base side right behind the visitor's dugout. I thought I might remember that game because of Cal, his 3-for-3 effort and the rare win for the Orioles; I instead remember it because it was the last time that I ever attended a baseball game with Grandfather.

Grandfather was so much to so many people - President of the Izaak Walton League, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, a student of history and genealogy, and a man with a love of the outdoors (fishing, hiking, hunting). He was highly critical of the bloated American government. He was critical of much in life, sometimes to a fault but never without passion.

Grandfather is the first member of his generation that I have lost to death, and I am finding that it is much tougher to deal with than I had expected. I was able to control my emotions over the long weekend, for the sake of the holiday weekend. Now that Monday has hit, though...

I will miss him. I do miss him. Because of the Alzheimer's and the debilitating effect that it had on his life, the tears I cry today are for me, not for him. I know that he suffers no more. I only wish that he had been granted the lucidity to know that the Huddleston name will live on through my son.

When the time is right, we will lay Grandfather to rest in his native Covington, Virginia. He would have wanted it that way, to be laid to rest in the Huddleston Family Cemetery. He set a high standard to live up to for those of us who bear his name, and I only hope that I can come close to doing so with my short existence on this earth.

Rest in peace, Robert L. Huddleston, Sr.


In 1999 I lost my maternal grandfather, with whom I was extremely close and who I credit more than anyone else for exciting my interest in politics.

I know exactly what you are going through, because it still doesn't seem the same not to have my grandfather around to cheer me on.
Rob - Sorry to read about your grandfather. I'm sure he was - and is - incredibly proud of you.
Dear Rob:

My family and I will be praying for and thinking about you and your family. My Granddaddy Ogle taught me to fish, and he set a fine example for me to follow in life. I am thankful to have known him.

Hang in there.

Your friend,
Steve Ogle
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