James Kenneth Huhta, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., died on April 23, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Fla., at the age of 79.
Jim is survived by his daughter, Rebecca Foye Duke (and husband Thorsten Sven Krenz) of Plymouth, Mass. and Berlin, Germany; daughter, Mary Suzanne Payson (and husband Charles Sherwood Payson) of Jupiter, Fla.; and granddaughters Olivia Perry Payson and Catherine Whitney Payson of Jupiter, Fla. He is also survived by brothers Robert George Huhta of Erie, Pa. and Richard Edward Huhta of Ellijay, Ga.; and many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Foye Perry Huhta, who died in 2016. He is also preceded in death by his father, Otto Huhta; his mother, Maria Kauppinen Huhta; brothers. William Otto Huhta and Charles Raymond Huhta; and sister, Thelma Marie "Jane" Huhta Howe.
Jim was born Aug. 27, 1937, in Ashtabula, Ohio. His parents, Maria Kauppinen Huhta (born in Pihtipudas, Finland) and Otto Huhta (born in Kalvia, Finland) emigrated to the United States from Finland before 1920. He graduated from Ashtabula Harbor High School in Ashtabula in 1955, and from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio in 1959. While at B-W he chaired the committee which raised the funds and constructed the student-operated radio station WBWC-FM. He was the first radio station manager, and interviewed prospective staff members, including a fellow B-W student, Mary Foye Perry. He and Mary were married in Newton, Mass., on Dec. 28, 1958. After graduating from Baldwin Wallace, Jim and Mary moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Jim received an MA and PhD in early American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jim and Mary moved to Murfreesboro in 1965, when Jim joined the faculty of the History Department at Middle Tennessee State University. He held the positions of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of History and Assistant Vice-President for Academic Affairs. In 1973, he founded the MTSU Historic Preservation Program and served as its director from 1973-1990. He also served as the Director of the Center of Excellence in Historic Preservation at the University from 1984 until he retired in 2002, after serving the university for 37 years.
He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to two terms as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, from 1994 to 2002. Dr. Huhta was the author of the plan for a National Heritage Area on the Civil War in Tennessee which was authorized by Congress in 1996. He also served on the board of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. From 1981 to 1990, Dr. Huhta served on the Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In Murfreesboro, he served as chair of the Rutherford County Courthouse Restoration Committee, and the construction projects of Stones River and the Lytle Creek Greenways, and the Bradley Academy. He also served as co-chair of the Horizons Program of the Rutherford County Bicentennial Commission, which created Cannonsburgh.
A funeral service is scheduled for May 8, 2017, at 10 a.m., at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., with a reception following the service at the church. All are welcome to attend. A private burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made in Jim's name to the Center of Excellence for Historic Preservation at MTSU (donations are made to the MTSU Foundation, P.O. Box 109, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37132, and should specify that gifts in honor of Dr. James K. Huhta are to go to the Center for Historic Preservation), or the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20037; donors should specify that gifts are in honor of Dr. James K. Huhta, NTHP Advisor).
Published on April 29, 2017