A former Dayton police officer and legendary Dayton BBQ man who for years cried “Cheesesteaks! BBQ Ribs!” on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton is being remembered as a champion for youth and the community he fed.
Dayton resident Tommy Owens Jr. called Howard “Huffie” Huffman III, the co-owner of Huffie's Bar-B-Que, a mentor and godfather.
“Huffie would feed us. He would talk to us about staying out of trouble,” Owens recalled of growing up near the restaurant at 925 McArthur Ave. “He would constantly talk to me about community. He would talk to me about my responsibility.”
Huffman, the public face of his family’s restaurant, died Jan. 31 at Miami Valley Hospital of natural causes.
His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6 at the Bethel Baptist Church, 401 S. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.
A viewing service will be held an hour before the funeral.
His mother, Iris Huffman, now 94, and sisters Pammara Huffman and Jamila-Karen Musa plan to continue the business established in 1965.
Pammara Huffman said her family’s strong entrepreneurial spirit was passed on to her brother.
Their grandfather Howard Huffman Sr. owned a grocery store, farm and restaurant in Kosciusko, Miss.
At one time, Huffie’s had three locations in Dayton.
She said her brother worked in the restaurant from the beginning and even while maintaining other jobs.
Huffman said her brother was a no-nonsense person, but was also comical. He often juggled work at several events at once.
“He would teach you about endurance. He worked even when he was sick,” she said. “All four of his girls worked in the restaurant. Huffie had a very strong work ethic.”
Pammara Huffman said her brother sold Mumbo Jumbo Polish sausage from a mobile BBQ pit in the Oregon District in the 1980s as the district began to become popular.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he sold BBQ on Courthouse Square, his family said.
The second eldest and only boy of five siblings, Huffman would often hire people others would not give a job, his sister said.
“He was our protector,” Pammara Huffman said. “He had a love for people.”
Born in Memphis, Tenn., Huffman III was brought to Dayton at age 3.
He attended Central State University after graduating Dunbar High School in 1967.
Asha Huffman said her father graduated from the Dayton Police Academy in 1973 and retired after about 15 years of police work.
“He was a real estate agent in the day and police officer at night,” she said.
Asha Huffman called him “coolest dad in the world” and said he enhanced life in Dayton.
“I shared my dad with Dayton,” she said.
Mary Huffman, Huffman’s wife of 40 years, said she hopes her husband is remembered for his love of community.
He encouraged young people, particularly young black males, to reach their full potential.
“You can do whatever you choose to do in your life. You have to work at it,” she said. “He wanted them to go for their best.”
Huffman served in the city of Dayton’s now defunct priority board neighborhood system, sponsored several youth sporting teams, held voting registration events at his family’s restaurant and offered free to homeless people staying at St. Vincent de Paul’s homeless shelter and as part of summer outreach at The Madden Hills Public Library on Germantown Street, his family said.
Torkwase Sy, Huffman’s eldest daughter, said her father was encouraging and always there for his family, attending everything from dance recitals to sporting events.
“He wanted us to go in the right direction,” she said. “We are not only the reflection of ourselves, he said we are also a reflection of the Huffman family.”
Huffman is also survived by daughters Fayola and Walidah Huffman; sisters Barunicgi Crouch and LaTanya Cox; two grandchildren and a step grandchild.