on May 2, 2013 - 10:03 AM
, updated May 2, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Aug. 24, 1924 – April 30, 2013
Nelson R. “Bally” Huff, a legendary lacrosse player of the 1940s and 1950s, died Tuesday in Lake Shore Rehabilitation Center, Irving, after a lengthy illness. He was 88.
A member of the Seneca Nation’s Turtle Clan, he was born in the Newtown community on the Cattaraugus Reservation, where his family spoke only the Seneca language.
He was one of the last two surviving students of the Quaker School for Indians in Allegany and attended Gowanda High School. He served in the Navy in World War II.
An ironworker with Ironworkers Local 6 in Buffalo, he worked on many building and highway projects in the area in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Huff played lacrosse, “the Creator’s Game,” with the Newtown Athletic Club in the North American Lacrosse Association. Regarded as one of the greatest offensive players of his era, he was noted for his quickness and his ability to shoot with equal strength right- or left-handed.
He was the NALA’s top scorer for four years in a row, from 1950 to 1953 and was the league’s most-valuable player in 1950 and 1951. He was a member of the 1951-52 NALA championship team. He coached the Newtown Golden Eagles in the mid-1960s and coached the U.S. all-star team in its competition with Canada at Expo ’67 in Montreal.
He was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005 and the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame notes that he “served as a role model for many young players, through his dedication and commitment to a lifestyle culture that respects and honors lacrosse as a gift from the Creator.”
Mr. Huff was active in the Seneca Nation government and served as a councilor.
He was a charter member of Iroquois Post 1587, the first Indian American Legion post; and a member of Gowanda Memorial Post 409, Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also was a life member of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Barbara Jimerson; two sons, Kerwin and Michael “Sam”; three daughters, Julie Jimerson, Roberta Jones and Wendy; and a brother, Stanley “Sully.”
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in the family residence, 11879 Burning Springs Road, Newtown.