A lifetime of service and adventure continues
By Nancy Koontz; photos courtesy of Jim Huffman
The refreshingly candid Jim Huffman has had an impressive journey throughout his professional and personal life. With his strong work ethic and boundless energy, it doesn’t appear that Huffman has slowed down at any point, even in retirement.
Raised in Chicago, Huffman first came to Colorado to attend the University of Denver for his undergraduate degree. After a trip around the world with his college roommate, he went on active duty in the United States Navy. Commissioned as an officer, he was assigned to a ship and deployed to Vietnam during the mid-1960s.
When returning to the U.S., Huffman was a Navy instructor, while also working on a master’s degree at Georgia State University. Transitioning to the Naval Reserve, he was the commanding officer of three large multistate units. He attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Next came special projects in Washington, D.C. and an assignment at the U.S. Embassy in London, working with NATO and the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe.
In 1986, Huffman was asked to serve on a committee for President Reagan to organize and run Liberty Weekend and The International Naval Review in conjunction with the relighting of the Statue of Liberty, following its completed renovation on July 4th of that year. He was also knighted by the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, the world’s oldest military order. All together, Huffman served 31 years in the Navy, from which he retired as a Captain with 11 medals, including the Navy Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Aside from his distinguished military career, Huffman has worked in a variety of industries, from oil to communications to entertainment. As an airline transport pilot and flight instructor, Huffman flies every week. And, just for fun, he has conducted tours of Colorado and surrounding states in luxury motorcoaches, while also managing to work in golf outings and tennis matches.
As an avocation since the 1970s, Huffman has worked as an actor in a variety of projects. They include Christmas specials, two-hour movies of the week, several television series roles, parts on national and local commercials, on-camera spokesman for banks and car dealers, as well as off-camera voice-overs and print work in magazines and newspapers. Among his many favorites with whom he has worked were Walter Matthau, John Denver and Raymond Burr.
In the 1980s, Huffman appeared in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, where he played an FBI agent investigating a murder case in neighboring Lone Tree. Then-Undersheriff Tony Spurlock was hired by the Los Angeles-based production company as Huffman’s on-set advisor, explaining how an agent would react in certain scenarios.
Now sheriff of Douglas County, Spurlock and Huffman have stayed in touch over the years. When having lunch several months ago, Spurlock said they were about to finally solve the 35-year-old cold case. Huffman facetiously encouraged him not to do so, as it would put an end to his residual payments for re-airing of the episode in syndication. Spurlock rightfully ignored the tongue-in-cheek request and apprehended the perpetrator, who was living in California. It was quite a success story for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Huffman has always been involved in nonprofit groups, serving as development director for an international organization and as president of a national organization that provides college housing on campuses around the country. At the present time, Huffman is serving on five boards, while also helping to establish a church in Highlands Ranch. He represents Douglas County as an Airport Commissioner on the board of Centennial Airport and is a board member with the Colorado Aviation Historical Society, The Douglas County Community Foundation, the Screen Actor’s Guild and Charters by Air Denver, a world-wide air charter referral service started by a longtime friend.
Huffman has enjoyed living in The Village at Castle Pines for nearly 20 years. He has three grown children and three grandchildren, all of whom reside in the Denver area. Along with frequent family visits throughout the year, they all take turns hosting for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Huffman is quick to express gratitude for the countless opportunities afforded him and has always felt obligated to make the best of them, as a way of contributing to the community.