Orange man played part in Cowboys’ history
Most probably don’t know this, but Orange has its own connection to the legendary Texas Stadium — home of the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 2008.
Jack Huffman Sr., 80, was born and raised in Orange. He later went on to become city manager of the city of Irving when the stadium opened. Though construction for the stadium was underway when he arrived for the job, Huffman later helped with two different expansions of the stadium.
“Clint Murchison(then owner of the Dallas Cowboys). put all the land for the stadium together. The people of Irving owned the stadium. They raised a bond issue for the $31.5 million construction cost for the stadium and parking lots,” Huffman said.
He added the construction went so well, there was even $1.5 million left over.
Huffman was also instrumental in developing some subdivisions in Irving. One was a wilderness area before it was developed.
Huffaman stayed on the job until the early 1990s — after present owner Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys from then owner Bum Bright. He worked with Jones for two years but they had differences of opinion and Huffman could see the handwriting on the wall.
He added it broke his heart to see Texas Stadium imploded in 2008.
He and his wife, Betty, retired to his ranch in Llano County in the Hill Country. He also bought a house in Orange a few years ago. They now spend time in between the two locations.
Huffman graduated from Stark High School in Orange. He then married before enlisting in the Air Force. He joked he married a city girl and he was from the country. They’ve been married for 61 years.
He volunteered for the service in 1950, the year the Korean War started. In fact, the Huffman family has a tradition of volunteering for military service.
After four years in the Air Force, he enrolled in Texas A&M University. He was around horses and cattle all of his life so he thought he would become a veterinarian. He searched the want ads of a newspaper one day and noticed all the job postings were for engineering positions. He changed majors after his first semester
and graduated with a civil engineering degree.
“I knew I wanted to go to a major school,” he said.
After college, Huffman landed a job with the city of El Paso as director of transportation. He later transferred to the city of Waco to become director of public works.
He was offered a job to run the water department for the city of Houston, but he feared he would never get to see his family.
Also at the same time, the city of Orange offered him the job as city manager. He returned back home after being away for 15 years.
Under his tenure, 16th Street was extended from Interstate 10 to Green Avenue. A waste treatment problem on Jackson Street was solved through bond funding, streets were overlaid and the E.W. Brown Jr. home was renovated into the Orange City Hall.
The mayor and council members from Greeley, Colo. met Huffman in his home and asked him to become their city manager. He accepted the position.
His major accomplishments there were getting the city out of debt, completing a large water project and bringing a Kodak facility there.
After spending a 4th of July at a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo. where the temperature never rose above 49 degrees for the day, Huffman had enough of the cold weather and told the family they were going back to Texas.
A contingency from Irving met him in his home and asked him to become city manager of “The best city in Texas, maybe in the United States.”
Huffman said one of the selling points for the Irving job was their master plan for the city, complete with mock building models. During his tenure there, the city grew from 92,000 people to 222,000 people. He added cranes were everywhere.
Another exciting moment for him was the first time a 747 jet landed at the new Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
Huffman said he became successful in life in spite of a slow start. He added he couldn’t had done it without his wife’s help.