Family Creates Internship Fund in Memory of Trustee G. Barry Huff ’73
G. Barry Huff ’73 had a decent enough summer job while he was a Grinnell College student. He worked for a company that built swing sets and playground equipment.
“It wasn’t an internship, and it wasn’t career-building,” says Becky Huff, Barry’s widow. “As a theatre major, Barry would have loved nothing more than to go spend the summer doing theatre. But he didn’t have that opportunity because he had to make money.”
Huff died in December 2018 in Minneapolis after a six-year battle with blood cancer. In deciding how to honor his legacy at Grinnell, the Huff family wanted to give current and future students opportunities that he was not able to experience.
The G. Barry Huff ’73 Endowed Internship Fund will award grants to students receiving need-based financial aid who are interning with an arts or nonprofit organization.
“Barry had a mission to give back to community, arts, and theatre organizations,” Becky Huff says. “Most of those organizations have unpaid internships. We know there are students — who are typically underrepresented — that would like the opportunity to either work at a nonprofit or pursue theatre. In some cases, these students may not have as many personal and family connections in the professional world, so gaining internship experience is even more important as they develop the skills and networks necessary for successful careers after Grinnell.”
After teaching high school English and theatre, Barry Huff returned to the College in 1975 to serve as an associate dean in the Office of the Dean of Students and to coach football and track. He had excelled in both sports as a student and was inducted into the Grinnell College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
“The six years he spent working at Grinnell College gave him a chance to teach, coach, and do a bit of everything with students while working with fabulous colleagues,” Becky Huff says. “It helped him find his way and change the trajectory.”
Barry Huff went on to become an executive in the food industry, serving as president of Glory Foods, vice president of Hoopeston Foods, and a marketing manager at Pillsbury. Additionally, he held many leadership positions in a variety of nonprofit organizations such as the Guthrie Theater Foundation and the National Marrow Donor Program.
He also was an active alumni volunteer, serving on the Grinnell College Alumni Council and his class committee and participating in the Alumni in the Classroom program. In 2018, he received an Alumni Award and was elected to the College Board of Trustees.
“He was so honored to be a trustee,” Becky Huff says. “He enjoyed it so much, and it was unfortunate that it was such a short tenure.”
Her husband’s passion for supporting students — especially those with financial need and those who encounter other systematic and societal barriers — will continue through the Huff Internship Fund.
“Barry credited his Grinnell education and other experiences with the College as among the most important in shaping the course of his life, and he was proud to push for and support the College’s ongoing commitments to diversity, social justice, and access,” Becky Huff says.
“We know that there are entire sets of people that are underrepresented in the upper level of business, nonprofits, and generally across the board. 2020 was an example of the awakening in our communities. Barry had been championing the cause for many, many years. We really believe that helping students obtain equal access and get a leg up is part of our family’s mission.”