Search billions of records on


The Biography of Bernard Roland Huffman
By, Bernna Louise Huffman

John Rolland Huffman and Margaret Koenig Huffman became parents for the third time on March 21, 1922. This newborn, a second son, was named Bernard Roland Huffman. Their first son Leonard Riley Huffman was born June 5, 1912. Upon his arrival Bernard also had a sister. Ellen Louise Huffman was born August 4, 1914. Two years after his birth another brother James Cooper Huffman arrived on September 28, 1924. The John Huffman family was then complete.
Bernard grew up in a loving but strict home at 209 East Water Street, Smethport, McKean County, Pennsylvania. He was raised as a strict Episcopalian and served as an altar boy for St. Lukes Episcopal Church.

At the age of 16 Bernard and a friend Bill Faull went for a canoe ride down the Allegheny River. Actually they built 16-foot long, Eskimo style kayaks, out of strips of hemlock. Bernard covered his with a tablecloth, much to his mothers chagrin, and then varnished it. Bill Faull covered his with burlap feed bags and painted it red. On Tuesday, July 26, 1938 they loaded their homemade kayaks onto a truck and took them to Kinzua, there they were met,  by four other boys from Olean. The six of them would start from this point at 6:00 A.M. Wednesday morning (July 27, 1938), and paddle, for approximately twelve hours a day for two weeks, on a hazardous trip down the Allegheny River. Their goal, being Washington Crossing and the Ohio River, 240 miles south. Along with them went a two-man pup tent stored in Bill Faullís boat and one suitcase they shared which Bernard carried in his boat.

The first night they camped in Warren Pennsylvania. Thursday (July 29, 1938) torrential rains delayed them and they spent that night in Tidioute, Pennsylvania. News of the their adventure preceded them, via newspapers and radio broadcasts. By the time they reached Franklin, Friday night (July 30, 1938) they were surrounded by members of the press and well-wishers. They camped near Gallaghers Gasoline Station on Eighth Street, in Franklin Pennsylvania.

They wore their bathing suits during the day and spent about fifty cents a day on food. Saturday night (July 31, 1938) they spent in Emlenton they were weary and tired from fighting the contrary river currents, and working their craft over the rapids. They spent the night at the home of Billís aunt Mrs. W. G. Snyder. They averaged 30 miles a day their best day they covered 50 miles. Along the way the four boys from Olean dropped out, but Bernard and Bill continued on. Sunday night (August 1, 1938) they spent at Billís Grandmotherís in Butler, Pennsylvania.

All along the stretch of the Allegheny River crowds of curious people gathered to inspect the homemade kayaks and complement the young navigators. They stopped at several river towns each day to eat and replenish their supplies. At one of these stops, near Templeton, Bernardís boat hit a rock and they thought that was the end of their journey, but Bernardís older brother Leonard brought his own homemade kayak to Templeton and the two lads continued down the river.

At 5:30 P.M. on August 6, 1938 three days ahead of schedule the two boys maneuvered into Lock 2 in the Allegheny River, at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Representatives of nine newspapers were there to greet them. Thirty-five years later, the trip was still being talked about, in 1973 the Bradford Era ran a story about the pair and their journey down the Allegheny River.

 In his senior year he was one of the thespians who performed for an audience of 450 people, in a production of ďEverybodyís Getting Married.Ē Many of his relatives and friends gathered in the Smethport High School Auditorium on Tuesday Evening June Sixth at 8:00, 1939 to see him graduate. One of the members of the class that graduated that night was a girl from East Smethport, Ruth Edna Okerlund. Bernard married Ruth Edna Okerlund in Smethport Pennsylvania on August 16, 1942.

Six months later on February 3, 1943 Bernard reported for active duty along with his younger brother James Cooper Huffman. Theyarrived in Miami Beach, on February 5,1943, to begin their basic training.As a pilot he flew B-24ís and he achieved the rankofFirstLieutenant.HewasawardedtheAirMedalwiththreeclusterswhileservinginItaly.

BernardwasinMontgomery,AlabamaandcouldnotgetaleavewhenhisdaughterBernnaLouiseHuffmanwasbornatmidnightonthatdayinMay.HisstintintheserviceendedtwoyearslaterinMayof1946.ThroughanArmyschoolplanhetooktheArchitecturalCourseDivisionIandIIfromtheInternationalCorrespondenceSchool.In1947,hisfatherJohnhisbrotherLeonardandBernardstarteda constructioncompanycalledJ.R.HuffmanandSons.TheybuiltmanyhousesinthevicinityofSmethportPennsylvania.

When a building slow down came to Pennsylvania in 1952 Bernard, packed up his family and moved to Cheektowaga, Erie County, New York. He became a Building Field Representative for Kideney Smith and Fitzgerald, a commercial architectural firm in Buffalo New York. They specialized in constructing college campuses and telephone buildings. His job was to supervise the contractor=s work and see that it conformed to the building codes and the architects blue prints. His brother Leonard followed a few years later and J. R. Huffman and Sons was closed.

In 1958 he bought a house at 133 Bissell Avenue, Depew, Erie County, New York. Bernard joined the Depew Volunteer Fire Departmentís Aetna Hose Company, and became a Captain. He organized the Political Action Party in Depew and ran for the Position of Village Trustee. He spent his remaining days living in Depew.

During the years his experience took him to many firms wherever there was a building being built in western New York he was there. He worked as a Field Representative for Edward J Fuhrmann Co. Inc., West Seneca, New York; Barrows, Parke, Morin, Hall and Brennan in Rochester New York; New York State Dormitory Authority in Albany New York; Biggie and Shaflucas.  In 1974 he went back to Kideney Smith and Fitzgerald where he spent the remainder of his working career.

Bernard loved to travel he went to Hawaii twice and Las Vegas several times. He was an outdoors man and a hunter. His pride and joy was a 55-acre camp in Lyndon, Cattaraugus County New York. He spent all his free time there relaxing, hiking, snowmobiling and hunting. He died there on October 13, 1978.

Medals and Newspaper Clippings of the Huffman Boys