See photos from columnist Dale Huffman’s 40-plus year career at MyDaytonDailyNews.com.
Longtime Dayton Daily News reporter and columnist Dale Huffman shared an evening of laughter, memories and storytelling “From the Heart” during the newspaper’s annual Living Legends lecture at Wright State University.
“I’m on!?” said Huffman after an introduction from Jana Collier, vice president of content for Cox Media Group Ohio. “I was ready to hear more of that!”
The event, held in WSU’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, drew more than 130 people Friday evening. With newspaper copies in hand, the man who walked into the Ludlow Street newsroom in 1968 and was hired on the spot shared some his favorite stories from over the decades.
“Under the Dale Huffman persona you see he’s a regular Joe,” said Ed Wright, Huffman’s longtime friend and caregiver.
Huffman built a career as an established reporter and personality in the Daily News bullpen. Billed in the newspaper as a “sensitive observer” with “many faces,” Huffman’s assignments included many of the region’s and nation’s most historic events of the past 50 years, including the Xenia tornadoes, Three Mile Island, and interviews with five U.S. presidents.
Among Huffman’s assignments was his “favorite story,” the release of American hostages from Iran after President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981. He was one of the first reporters in the world to speak with a former hostage, according to a Daily News advertisement from the time.
“It was my conniving that got the first interview with him,” Huffman said. “I got ninety minutes of an interview that I will treasure until the day I die.”
In 1999, Huffman started writing a daily column that highlighted everyday life throughout the Miami Valley. The column ran every day for more than eight years until he was hospitalized with a serious illness. By then, he had written more than 3,000 consecutive columns in the Daily News.
He also spearheaded an annual “Mother of the Year” contest and “adopted” a group of students in the Class of 2000 as children who he followed and wrote about in his columns throughout the years. At least one was in the audience.
Additionally, Huffman wrote a book titled “Dayton: The Cradle of Creativity” in 1998 and said Friday he is in the process of writing another. In 2008, he was inducted into the Dayton Walk of Fame and recently donated his collection of memorabilia, papers and photographs to WSU’s Special Collections and Archives library.
In its fifth year, the Living Legends series was created after the Dayton Daily News designated Wright State as the repository for its archives. The university has agreed to host an additional five speakers over the next five years, said Melissa Spirek, Wright State communication department chair and professor.
The series has previously honored four other Dayton Daily News journalists: chief photographer Ty Greenlees in 2010, editor Jeff Bruce in 2011, sports columnist Tom Archdeacon in 2012 and columnist D.L. Stewart in 2013.
The Dayton Daily News archive features photographs, negatives and news clippings from the Daily News and the former Dayton Journal Herald. The Daily News transferred legal ownership of the collection to WSU in 2009, according to the library.