By Mark Wilson
For the past five years, I have led a group of students to the Clearfork Valley of Tennessee as part of a course on community and civic engagement. Each year the experience of living and learning in an Appalachian community has its own adventure–the year a group of us were stuck on a mountain till way past dinner time; the time two of our guys accidentally burned huge holes in our community partner’s picnic table; the year students talked me into rescuing three puppies.
But the warm hospitality of our friends in the small communities surrounding the Clearfork Community Institute never changes. So it’s with heavy hearts we grieve the loss of a friend. On Saturday, May 24, 2014, our good friend Glenn Huddleston passed away. For Glenn, the visit of college students was a real treat, and the feeling was mutual. Glenn would always share about growing up in the valley, moving away for work, and then moving back for retirement. This past year was the first time I heard him sing. He played and sang several songs for us, many that he wrote himself, including one unforgettable number about the love of his life, Helen.
He didn’t want us to return to Auburn at the end of the week. “Here’s what you do tomorrow,” he said on our last day. “Cough real loud and tell them you can’t make it back because your sick. We’ll go riding in the mountains and you can go back later.” I wish we could go back and visit with Glenn one more time. He leaves behind his beautiful wife Helen and countless friends, a number of whom wear orange and blue and consider their time with him a gift of immeasurable value.