The hopes and dreams of Dr. Bradley Hufft still seem to be alive at Fresno State as student music echoes the halls of the music building where roses were placed outside his office door.
The passion for music continues with those he left behind, just days after losing him forever.
On April 13, Dr. Hufft was found dead in his vehicle near Coarsegold.
Vocal performance professor Dr. Maria Briggs shares an office across from Dr. Hufft. She remembers how welcoming he would make the work environment.
“He was an extrovert, full of energy and fun. He energized the hallway when he walked down it,” Briggs said.
Dr. Hufft’s wife, Ellie Choate Hufft reflected on her husband as she visited the place where he had inspired many minds.
“He wanted them to fall in love with music as much as he had,” Mrs. Hufft said.
Dr. Hufft and Mrs. Hufft met in middle school. Reminiscing about a recent school reunion, Hufft said the impact her husband had on others will stick with them forever.
“Brad was ‘that guy’ in school,” Hufft said. “People did not forget Brad. He was brilliant and funny and involved in so many things and knew so many people.”
As a colleague, Briggs looked up to Dr. Hufft as a leader in the department. His expertise in the field is what amazed her, she said.
“He was very knowledgeable. He was a master of his craft as a composer and an educator,” Briggs said. “He was a Renaissance man, because he was good at so many different things.”
Hufft never knew her husband had a passion for music until her first day of college when they were enrolled in the same theory class. She knew he excelled at so many other things, but she never thought music composition was one of those things.
“He’s done so many things, you have no idea. I don’t even know all the the things he’s done,” Hufft said.
During their time in class, Dr. Hufft once opened a book and pointed at a picture of music composer Pierre Boulez. He told Mrs. Hufft that Boulez was a key person to know in order to be successful in their music field.
He said, “You see this guy Pierre Boulez. You need to know about this guy.”
After college, the pair went their separate ways. Both continuing on to excel in their craft.
Some 20 years later, Mrs. Hufft got the opportunity to play with none other than Boulez himself. She was awarded two tickets for guests, one was for her daughter the other ticket went to Dr. Hufft.
“I didn’t want to give the [other] ticket to somebody who wasn’t going to get it,” Hufft said. “I [had] to get Brad to go because he’s the only person I knew that would get it.”
But Dr. Hufft declined the invitation because the performance was on a school night.
Mrs. Hufft was allowed to invite Dr. Hufft to an earlier rehearsal, however. That’s when the two actually meet face-to-face for the first time in years.
“It was so thrilling to do that piece and for him to have a chance to meet this renowned composer,” Hufft said.
This summer would have marked four years of marriage.
Hufft’s fondest memories of her husband their car rides together, always driving to their next adventure.
“He particularly loved to drive on roads he’d never been on before. One reason that we always enjoyed driving was because it really gives you a chance to really be who you are and just talk about everything,” She said. “I can’t think of a time we’ve been able to travel together anywhere and we haven’t just had fun.”
Admiring her husband’s career as an educator, Hufft was amazed at Dr. Hufft’s dedication to his students. She said that he would put so much consideration in student backgrounds when reading their term papers.
“I can’t think of anyone who is anymore devoted to serving his students and to serving his fellow faculty members,” Hufft said. “I appreciate that he cared about each student and understood each student.”
Rachel Gascon, a counseling graduate student remembered Dr. Hufft being one of her first professors when she arrived to Fresno State in 2012.
“I was intimidated at first because this was one of my first classes I ever took at Fresno State. In the end, I truly enjoyed going to class because we were able to discuss and listen to music,” Gascon said. “When Dr. Hufft found out I was musician, we talked almost every morning about what instruments I enjoyed playing the most. These small conversations always brightened my day.”
Dr. Kenneth Froelich, a professor in the music department worked with Dr. Hufft and the music composition students. Froelich remembers how passionate Dr. Hufft was in making sure the students stayed authentic.
“He just needed to make sure that the music the student was writing actually had a soul,” Froelich said. “To make sure it actually sounded like them.”
Gascon believes that Dr. Hufft’s enthusiasm for student success was motivating for those that had the opportunity to work with him.
“I would like people to know that the music department is a family filled with incredible musicians and professors,” Gascon said. “Dr. Hufft will always be a part of that family, and his legacy is reflected on the students he taught.”
Jessica Johnson contributed to this story.