Obituary: Bob ‘Huff’ Huffman

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By Greg MacGillivray

Bob “Huff” Huffman, 88, owner and witty proprietor of The Forest Market, now leased to the fantastic 230 Restaurant. Perhaps the funniest man to ever live in Laguna, Huff passed on to the quiet side this past week in beautiful Point Arena, Calif.

Bob and Chris Huffman, in 1980, excited by the birth of Shaun MacGillivray. Photo courtesy of Barbara MacGillivray

Known for his friendly Tuesday poker games in the back of the market, the best sandwiches ever in town, and the drollest comebacks to any greeting, Huff was a true Laguna iconoclast. He supported the rights of the poor and fought for the wild canyons and the clean ocean with his membership in Village Laguna. He was a liberal in politics, a lover of all humans, and a caretaker of any kinetic thing – including lost golf balls at Ben Browns. He would have loved what Mark Christy has done with the Aliso Canyon that he treasured.

Huff began his wild Laguna ride with a bikini company called “Strawberries” in the 70s with his first wife, “Pickles.” When she died from cancer suddenly, he bought The Forest Market in the late 70s with his second wife, Chris, and they transformed it into the town gathering spot, with healthy freshly squeezed fruit drinks, whole wheat sandwiches, and fair prices. Every employee downtown ate lunch there daily and grew healthier in the process. One day, when Huff had to attend a family event, I took over the cash register for lunch for only four hours and became a stuttering fool – what a demanding, stressful job. Huff and Chris must have had a special tolerance gene made for that task. They made the Market the highlight of our downtown.

Huff had thousands of friends, some attracted by his creative antics. He invented the fine art of streaking a party to make it even more spirited. He loved controversy and the absurd. On some July Fourths, he literally became an exploding naked attraction, holding lit spinning pin-wheels between his legs and sparklers in his hands. Yet he had no shortcomings. As his friend Mark Dawson has said: “Huff had a kind heart. He always had positive and fun things to say to the people he encountered, things meant to lift a person’s spirit or boost their self-esteem. He had an unusual and special desire to lift people up. I can’t help but think how much better our world would be if we had more Huffs.”

His wife, Chris Fidler has called out affectionately: “I am the lucky woman who fell in love with Huff. He introduced me to a life rich with good friends and a loving family. He had a heart of gold and the personality to make sure that everyone around him felt loved and special. We were a great team to host the Forest Market and embrace the community. Loving Huff has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

In later years, Huff traveled with his dear, steadfast and caring friends, Lorelei and Tim Brooks, to live a quiet, beautiful life in glorious Point Arena, Calif. He’d tell me, “It’s small and personal like Laguna was in the 60s and 70s.”

Recently, Laguna Beach filmmaker Robin D. Williams traveled to Scotland with Huff: “Huff enjoyed chatting with the locals, who all had a thick Scottish brogue, and it was fun to see him pretend to understand every word they spoke. He did not know it, but soon, he was picking up the Scottish accent, and unfortunately, I could no longer understand him.”

One of the smartest men I’ve ever met, Barbara and I give our Thanksgiving thanks to have known and enjoyed this true Lagunatic: Bob Huffman, one of the best humans to ever love Laguna.

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  1. I have the fondest memories of uncle Rob. My mother, Virginia, took over his bikini business after Pickles had passed, and renamed the business “Sandpiper Bikini’s”. Every time I would see uncle Rob as a child, being shy with lots of freckles and red hair, he would give me a hug and shout “I’m going to kiss every one of those cute freckles!”. I have so many fond memories of uncle Robs market in Laguna, and our huge family beach parties at Corona del Mar beach. What memories! He will forever be in my heart.

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