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In Memoriam: Duane Huff

OADA Remembers William Duane Huff:

Duane Huff of Fred Martin Auto Group was a friend of OADA and a member of the Northeast Ohio Auto Dealers Association Board of Trustees

duane huff

William Duane Huff III, of Richfield passed away suddenly on Thursday, January 4th, 2018 at his “dream home.”

Duane, as most knew him, was born July 9th, 1960 at Akron General Medical Center. The first of three boys, Duane served as a father figure to his two younger brothers and to many others who had the good fortune of knowing him. A shaker and mover in his youth, Duane touched the lives of many in the Akron area. Well known for his pleasant demeanor, entrepreneurial spirit, and extraordinary wit, Duane was a friend to many and loved by all who crossed his path. When Duane made friends, he made them for life. 

In 1978 Duane graduated from Waterloo High School in Atwater, where he made two friends for life, Chuck and Roy. Through thick and thin these two friends have stuck by him. They were so close that Duane’s children, Will and Larissa, consider them part of their family, and refer to them as “uncle Chuck” and “uncle Roy”. 

In pursuit of higher learning, Duane attended the University of Akron where he met Kristalyn Jo Emery, a black haired blue-eyed woman who matched him in spirit, challenged his intellect, and helped fuel his desire to be a successful businessman. She would be the woman his signature line, “I wouldn’t throw her out of bed for eating crackers,” was inspired by. Duane earned a degree in Accounting from the University of Akron. From there he pursued a law degree, earning high marks in all his courses, only to tell his professors he was leaving because “He was tired of being poor.”

After graduating from the University of Akron Duane finally married the love of his life, Kristalyn. They were married for 32 years starting on December 28, 1985 when they began what Duane would consider the most successful partnership of his life. Hand in hand with “Kitten”, they went on to start and run several businesses. After achieving professional success, Duane and Kristalyn went on to have two children, Will and Larissa. The role of “father” would be the crowning achievement for Duane in a life full of accomplishments.

An entrepreneur from a young age, Duane first began his entrepreneurial journey on his paper route delivering the Akron Beacon Journal on his bicycle. He opened several small businesses throughout his youth, finding tremendous success with a chain of video stores he and his wife opened in the eighties called “Video Time.” This business allowed Duane to be heavily involved with two of his many passions, cinema and technology. Duane and Kristalyn traveled the country attending conventions that show cased upcoming new releases and advances in video technology. As technology quickly advanced, Duane anticipated early on that physical video locations would become obsolete and looked to diversify his businesses.

In 1999, Duane became partner of a machine knife supply shop started by his late grandfather, Paul D. Grimes in Akron. With his guidance, Portage Knife is a business that has grown tremendously over the last two decades and continues to thrive today.

In 1999 he also teamed up to purchase Fred Martin Superstore in Barberton/Norton with his beloved brother Adam S. Huff. Never considering himself a “Car Guy,” Duane brought a fresh set of eyes to the car business. Serving as Treasurer, Duane’s background in accounting, coupled with his vast experience in retail marketing and real estate made him an integral part of the Fred Martin organization. He recently began serving as Trustee for the Northeast Ohio Auto Dealers Association, a position he happily held to expand his knowledge of the auto industry. Since teaming up, Fred Martin Auto Group has continued to expand across Northeast Ohio and into Louisville, KY, employing nearly 350 people. Duane was tremendously proud to work closely with his brother and other members of his family, always valuing family above all else.

Duane was preceded in death by his beloved grandmother, Thelma Standley Grimes (lovingly called Nan); father-in-law, Eugene Emery; and his brother, David P. Huff. He is survived by his wife, Kristalyn J. (Emery) Huff; son, William D. Huff IV; daughter, Larissa Leigh Huff; mother, D. Jeannine (Grimes) Lizak; father, William D. (Carol) Huff, Jr.; mother-in-law, Judy Emery; brother, Adam S. (Robin) Huff; sister-in-law Cheryl (Michael) Arnold; sister-in-law, Melinda (Jerry) Corp; as well as many nieces, nephews and extended family members.


*Obituary published January 9, 2018 on

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