FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Wiley Huff died in early August from COVID-19. At the time, his family asked for privacy. Now, his daughter is opening up to Local 10 about her father and about the memorial tribute in his name that will help others.
“It’s almost like a freak accident. You didn’t see it coming. You weren’t prepared. You didn’t get to say goodbye,” said his daughter, India Huff.
Huff was an educator, an attorney and, most recently, the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
India said he was the kind of guy who never did anything by accident.
“He was very deliberate in the kind of work he did because it was something that he truly believed in and could really put his heart and soul into,” she said.
Her father had a passion for helping people and it is a passion that he passed on to India, who was getting ready to start medical school when her father began to get sick this summer.
"I was starting to feel like maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I should stay and just figure it all out from Miami and my dad said,‘No, you stick with the plan and you go to Texas and you move in and you get started with school.’ "
She listened to him and she went to Texas.
“The day that I left, my mom took him to the emergency room.” That’s when she said things started moving quickly.
The pneumonia they were treating him for wasn’t getting better.
“When he first arrived, they treated him for pneumonia and I spoke to him on the phone he was sounding strong, saying ‘I’m feeling a lot better,’ and then 2 days in the hospital, 3 days, the days kept going, complications kept piling on, the pneumonia wasn’t resolving. They tested him for COVID-19 twice."
He was beginning to have organ failure. In early August he passed away less than a week before his 74th birthday.
“It was a lot to kind of go from seeing someone with all of their faculties, all of their independence, all of their health and then the next day it’s completely taken from them,” India said.
In the time that has passed, Wiley’s family has been grieving his loss. They have also been working on a way to memorialize him properly, eventually deciding to create a scholarship.
It’s called the Higher Ground Scholarship named for the mantra the father would tell his daughter, she said, from the time she was a young girl: “To always seek higher ground.”
She said if she could say one last thing, it would be this.
“I would want to tell him how proud I am to be his daughter.”
The scholarship will be used to help under-served students in the college process.
“Whatever money we raise would be for application fees, SAT, whatever help we could give with the college process," India said.
To find out more about the scholarship, click here for the GoFundMe page.