World traveling children’s book editor, author, poet and QEII frequent-voyager, Barbara Huff, died peacefully on April 21.
Huff grew up in Westwood, a suburb of Los Angeles and followed her father’s travels as he sold securities in Hawaii and Asia. She attended UCLA as an English Major. However, a Marlborough High School friend changed her life with stories of Greenwich Village and the excitement of being a young independent woman in Manhattan. So there she moved in 1954.
That year the Los Angeles Times trumpeted her mother’s five hole-in-ones as a golfing aficionado in opposition to her daughter’s adamant preference for sports observation.
In NYC, Huff soon began her career at Doubleday as Editor with the Junior Literary Guild and fulfilled her second goal of becoming a Greenwich Village resident moving into her charming studio on Christopher Street.
Huff became close to The Formerly Club, the group of writers and artists such as John Lardner and cartoonist Walt Kelly who hung out at Bleeck’s Artist & Writers restaurant on West 40th Street in Manhattan. (The name derived from the “Formerly Club” sign that referenced its glorious prohibition days.) The New York Times published “Over and Back, Over and Back,” her story of her favorite endeavor–riding the transatlantic voyage on the QE II without bothering to dally with any landlubber sightseeing. When in 1987 her young adult book Welcome Aboard book was published by Clarion Books she had made 40 crossings fun. It offered such practical advice as how to overcome shyness by addressing fellow passengers with the customary, “how is your crossing?”
Her young adult book of 1990, Greening the City Streets, shared the community garden experience with budding green thumbs. Her 24 line poem “The Library” has been reproduced dozens of time and will be familiar to many: “It looks like any building, when you pass it on the street…But there’s wonderment within it, the wonderment of books.”
Another poem from 2007, “Afternoon with Grandmother” was included in an anthology of Great Poems for Grandchildren. She was a Mensa member and her cleverness with language garnered many wins in New York Magazine’s competitions over the years. She exhibited a unique spirit of independence spending most of her retirement funds on the voyages that inspired and thrilled her, whether river cruises or around-the-world on the QEII. She touched many lives and savored every moment of her rich and full life.