Earl “Nick” Huston III (July 2, 1940–October 30, 2019)
Earl “Nick” Huston III of Glenwood Springs passed away on October 30, 2019 at UCHealth Hospital in Aurora, CO from complications following spine surgery. He was 79 years old.
Nick was born July 2, 1940 in Evanston, Illinois to Earl “Tex” Huston, Jr. and Rachel Elizabeth Danley Huston. Nick was the oldest son followed close in age by brother, Dan. At an early age, Nick’s family moved to Riverside, California where he attended Magnolia Elementary, Central Junior High and Polytechnic High School. He played junior varsity basketball. When Nick was in 10th grade, the family moved to Orinda, California where Nick graduated from Acalanes High School in 1958.
Following high school Nick joined the California National Guard and went through basic training at Fort Ord, California from September, 1958 to March, 1959. He remained in the National Guard until honorably discharged in 1966. Nick’s family moved to Millburn, New Jersey in September, 1959 and he attended Union Junior College in Cranford, NJ. They then moved to Charlotte, NC and Nick enrolled at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1960 where he studied business.
In 1962, Nick was in a car accident that left him a paraplegic. Following rehabilitation, he could not return to UNC because the campus was not wheelchair accessible. In 1964 he enrolled at the University of Illinois, one of the few universities, at that time, making college attendance possible for disabled students. Nick graduated from the University of Illinois in 1966 with a B.S. in Economics.
During Nick’s college years, he participated in sports for the disabled and excelled in swimming. Nick won a gold medal in swimming at the National Wheelchair Games in 1966. The University of Illinois later started recognizing the accomplishments of disabled athletes, and in 2004, at a special ceremony, Nick was retroactively awarded a varsity letter from the University of Illinois in swimming/wheelchair sports.
It was at the University of Illinois where Nick met Judy Waterman from Colorado. She, too, had become a paraplegic in a car accident and had transferred to the University of Illinois for the very same reason; her college, the University of Colorado, was not wheelchair accessible. Nick and Judy began dating and soon discovered they were meant for each other. They married in June of 1966. The couple lived in campus housing and Nick worked for the University of Illinois purchasing department until Judy finished her degree.
In 1967 the Hustons moved back to Judy’s home, the Roaring Fork Valley. Nick got a job working for PortaMix Concrete as office manager. Then, in the summer of 1968, Nick began working in the payroll department for Winston, Foley, Fraiser, Davis and Hurley; the engineering company that oversaw the Fryingpan-Arkansas Water Diversion Project. Early every morning Nick drove the Frying Pan Road up the valley floor to the company trailer near Norrie Colony. Then, one day in late summer, Nick’s route was diverted up on the mountain above the valley and the farmland below was slowly inundated, thus creating Ruedi Reservoir.
In 1968 Nick began working for Grand Mesa Distributing Company (later named Coors Western Slope) as Office Manager/Comptroller, a job he held for 29 years until retirement in 1997. Judy began teaching 2nd grade in Glenwood Springs. Nick and Judy bought a little house way up Three Mile Canyon outside of Glenwood Springs. Many winter mornings Nick was up before dawn blowing snow with his Cub Cadet tractor. He also had a plow on his Jeepster Commando to clear their driveway, and sections of 3 Mile Road too, since upper 3 Mile Road was not high priority on the county’s plow list.
In 1972 Nick and Judy were thrilled to learn they were accepted as adoptive parents of a darling four-month old baby boy, Jordan “Jordy”. Nick was a “hands on” dad from the very start; changing diapers, washing diapers, warming bottles, getting up in the middle of the night etc. Nick enjoyed being involved in Jordy’s activities. He attended soccer games and helped with Cub Scout projects. Nick and Jordy built a sleek pinewood derby car they named the “Silver Bullet”. It didn’t win but it sure looked cool.
Nick thrived on outdoor activities. He would drive the big ol’ Ski Doo snowmobile around the fields pulling Judy and Jordan, screaming, behind on sleds. The family enjoyed jeepin’, picnics in the high country and overnights at their remote cabin in the mountains above Glenwood Springs. In summer they often traveled. One summer, when they were planning a road trip out East, Nick broke his leg just days before their planned departure. Not one to let a little thing like a broken leg change their plans, Nick drove his hand-controlled van with his lower leg cast propped up on the dash board. In 1984, the Hustons sold their 3 Mile home and in 1986 they moved into a house on Oasis Creek that they had designed specifically for their needs. They lived there until the present.
Nick cared about his community. He devoted time to meetings on Glenwood’s planning and zoning issues. He was a generous supporter of numerous valley non-profits; among them, Youth Zone, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Thunder River Theater and Home Care of the Valley. Nick made monthly contributions to Wounded Warriors and the St Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. Nick was initiated into the Glenwood Springs Elks Club in 1980. He served as trustee for seven years and devoted 40 years of service to the Elks’ causes.
Nick was an avid reader and particularly liked mystery thrillers and historical western novels. He has an extensive collection of Terry C. Johnston autographed hardbacks and the entire leather-bound collection of Louie L’Amour. One of Nick’s favorite things was groovin’ to the “sweet jazz” played by Walt Smith and his band. Nick and Judy tried never to miss an evening when Walt Smith played at the Buffalo Valley Restaurant or any opportunity to hear Walt play. Nick loved going out to eat. He and Judy were practically fixtures at the Riviera Supper Club on prime rib night, and of course, for Nick, no dinner was complete without the requisite two Manhattans. Nick also enjoyed meeting up with some of his buddies from Coors for a weekly lunch.
Nick loved to have a good time. He had a clever wit and a dry sense of humor. He didn’t talk a lot but when he did his words often caused gales of laughter. Nick had a keen intellect and a formidable memory. We could say “Ask Nick” instead of “Ask Google”. Nick was a man with undaunted spirit and “true grit”.
Nick was predeceased by his parents, Tex and Betty. He is survived by his wife, Judy Waterman Huston of Glenwood Springs, CO; his son, Jordan (Liz) Huston and step daughter, Kairi of Aurora, CO; brother, Dan (Billie) Huston of Richmond, Virginia; nephew, Knox (Ashley) Huston and niece, Catherine Huston.
The community is invited to share in a celebration of Nick’s life on Saturday, December 28, 2019, 1:00 pm at the Glenwood Springs Elks Lodge, 51939 Hwy 6, Glenwood Springs, CO. Please bring a fond memory of Nick and enjoy appetizers and beverages as we remember this great guy, Nick Huston. If desired, a memorial contribution can be made to any one of the organizations Nick supported.
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