Ex-boxer, political activist and community organizer, Clarence “Larry” Huff, dies at 86

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Clarence “Larry” Huff born June 15, 1927 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania died quietly at the Highland Park Care Center on June 3. The fourth child of William and Mattie Huff, he was raised in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and developed early his talent as a boxer that would serve him well throughout his personal and professional life.

He began boxing at the Kay Club at the age of sixteen as a welterweight for the Golden Gloves. In 1958, he began his professional career in the middleweight division with mentor and trainer “Sugar Ray Robinson.” Huff defeated the majority of his opponents and was ranked as a “Top 10” competitor, achieving 25 knockouts during his professional boxing career. In 1961, he retired his boxing gloves and traded them in to challenge opponents in the political and social arenas, advocating for the rights of the underserved, particularly African Americans, in the Pittsburgh region.

Larry’s first fight was segregation. As a business agent for Local Union 178, House Wreckers and Metal Yards Laborers Union, he worked to integrate the city’s labor unions. He later became Secretary-Treasurer of the Laborer’s District Council of Western Pennsylvania, where he served for 17 years.

He then took his fight to the community as the 13th Ward Democratic Chairman and Constable in Homewood-Brushton, spearheading major projects to secure $23 million in federal, state and city funds to build 300 housing units for the East Hills Development and the 162-unit Kelly Street High-rise Apartments.

His next maneuver was becoming the Assistant Secretary of the Human Services Division under the late Pittsburgh Mayor Joseph Barr. While working in the Mayor’s office, he founded the first chartered Afro-American Fraternal Organization in Pittsburgh. He left city administration and was hired as Personnel Director of the Negley House Nursing Home and eventually became the Vice President of Community Relations and Patient Ombudsman for the Central Medical Pavilion–a direct result of his work to bring together key stakeholders in building the first physician-owned hospital in the Hill District community. After retiring from Central Medical Pavilion, he continued to advocate for the underserved and wellness for senior citizens.

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Clarence “Larry” Huff (Courier File Photo/Ben Murray)

Huff was a longtime, faithful member of Baptist Temple Church in Homewood, where he used another of his gifts as a talented singer. A tenor, he was a member of the men’s choir and the popular professional group, the Universal Singers.

Although he left school after the ninth grade, Larry was an avid reader, and completed his GED, certifications in executive housekeeping management and Dale Carnegie Leadership training, as well as other vocational courses.

He was affiliated with the Pittsburgh Branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, Citizens for Community Pride and Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, to name a few.

He received numerous accolades, awards and certificates of appreciation and achievement during his lengthy and esteemed career.

Larry leaves to celebrate his life four daughters:  Charlotte (Rommie) Byrd, Linda (Roger) McDonald, Linnette Booker and Tasha Huff, all of Pittsburgh; brother, Cephas (Juanita) Huff; sister, Threatha Huff; four granddaughters, Charlyn and Larae Booker, Angela Byrd and Autumn McDonald; and a great grandson, Bryce Booker Davidson;  and a host of relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by four brothers, Loron, Leroy, Harry and Sidney Huff.

Visitation will be held on Saturday 9 -11a.m. at the Baptist Temple Church, 7241 Race Street, Pgh, Pa. 15208, where the Homegoing celebration will be held immediately following visitation hours. Interment is at the Greenwood Cemetery. Arrangements are being handled by House of Law, Inc Funeral Home.

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