By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
He liked a laugh and a good cigar. He enjoyed plenty of both.
Robert “Bob” E. Huber, journalist, freelance writer and newspaper columnist, died early Friday morning at his home in Portales. He was best known in Portales and Clovis for his weekly humor column that ran in the Portales News-Tribune and Clovis News Journal.
He was 76.
“I’ll miss him, I’ll miss his laugh,” said his daughter Holly Huber of Roswell. “He was a true practical joker. He loved to make people laugh.”
While he liked to make people laugh, he had no problem laughing at himself and did so regularly, recalling a childhood situation or an episode with wife Marilyn, whom he always bowed to, sooner or later in most of his 600-plus columns that began in appearing in 1994.
His other daughter, Tracy LeCocq of Roswell, says if anything, he probably toned down experiences in his writing. Still, his adventures with boyhood chum Smoothe Heine prompted some editors to end column with the tagline, “Some of his stories are mostly true.”
Felipe Macias, a professor of theatre at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. got to know Bob through a writer’s breakfast clatch that met weekly and included Jack Williamson and other local authors.
“I laughed so hard,” Macias said. “That was the great thing about Bob — he always had a story or anecdote. You never felt glum around Bob.”
Huber was born June 27, 1931, in Denver. Before working as a columnist, Huber had a long career as a wire service reporter.
At 17, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard between World War II and the Korean War.
LeCocq said he hated the ocean and everything about the Coast Guard. What he aspired to was journalism.
He later attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. According to his daughter, professors there scoffed at his dream because he had grown up poor on the wrong side of the tracks. He proved detractors wrong during a long career, with stops at the Roswell Daily
Record, the Denver Post and United Press International.
While with UPI in the 1960s, he covered missions of the Gemini and Apollo space programs.
Holly said being Bob Huber’s daughter could have been frightening if she’d have known enough to be scared.
“We actually had some Black Panthers come by and I invited them into our Quonset barn for Cokes and cookies,” she said. “I was a naive kid so I wasn’t really aware of it until I was older. They were all nice though.”
Holly said her father came home one day to find her watching “Dialing for Dollars,” a long-running giveaway television program. He reprimanded her for not being outside. The next day while she was outside playing basketball, “Dialing for Dollars” called the Huber house.
“Anytime he tried to give me advice, or wanted to know why I was doing something after that, I’d just say ‘Dialing for Dollars, dad.’”
LeCocq recalled a time Bob was home alone with the family’s five dogs.
“He got bored and loaded up all the dogs and went to the drive-in movie,” she said. “It didn’t turn out too well. He yelled at something and the dogs started barking.”
The car was damaged and had to be towed home.
His greatest love, according to his daughters, was his wife, Marilyn. They met in 1951 at a college mixer. They spied each other and heard one another laugh from across a crowded room and instantly knew they were soul mates. Six weeks later they eloped.
“It was like a voice across the room,” LeCocq said. “Truly it was a match made in heaven.”
The couple moved to Portales while Marilyn taught in Pep, Texas, and after retirement they both liked the city so well they stayed instead of moving back to Roswell where most of their family lived.
Marilyn preceded him in death, in 2003, as did one son, Glen Huber, in 1991. He is survived by his two daughters and four grandchildren.
An informal memorial will be held Sept. 22 in a garden on the family property in Roswell. At that time Huber’s ashes will be spread next to his wife’s ashes beneath a magnolia tree.