Clyde Hupp, a Tacoma electrician who became a passionate and powerful supporter of trade unions and the rights of working people in Pierce County, died Aug. 3 at the age of 83.
Those who worked with Hupp during his lengthy terms as Washington State Labor Council vice president and Pierce County Central Labor Council secretary-treasurer remember him as a quiet man who was slow to anger and unfailingly polite.
The principle that guided him, friends and associates say, was a conviction that people of all backgrounds should be able to improve their lives by learning a trade.
“He really believed it was important to have a career, not just a job,” said Patty Rose, current secretary-treasurer of the labor council, whose association with Huff began in 1981. “He was thoughtful and passionate about the labor community.”
In addition to his work with organized labor, Hupp held several influential positions with educational and social service organizations in Pierce County, including Bates Community College, the Tacoma Urban League and United Way.
When Hupp retired in 1993, the state House passed a resolution honoring him and declaring March 26, 1993, as “Clyde Hupp Day.”
“I always called him ‘the gentleman labor leader’ because he was always just that — a gentleman,” said Bill Johnston, a longtime Tacoma labor representative. “I can’t ever remember him getting angry or anything. And, of course, running the Labor Council, that’s pretty easy to do.”
Huff was preceded in death by his wife, Lulu Bacon, whom he married in 1953. He is survived by two daughters, Marilou Gadley and Barbara McCulloch, and many other family members. At his request, no public service will be held.
Hupp was born in Tacoma in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1947, as wartime industry jobs were disappearing. He worked at odd jobs and spent a year as a deck boy on ocean freighter.
At 20, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Korean War.
Huff trained as an electrician through an apprenticeship program at Bates, a path to the trades he supported throughout his life. He worked as an electrician for 16 years, then took a job at the Tacoma Urban League, working with future Tacoma Mayor Harold Moss in an apprenticeship outreach program.
In 1974, Huff was elected executive secretary for the Pierce County Building and Construction Trades. Three years later, he was chosen as the secretary-treasurer of the Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He served in that position for 16 years. He also was the council’s vice president from 1978 to 1992.
In addition to Bates, the Urban League and United Way, Huff worked with the Tacoma-Pierce County Blood Bank, the Economic Development Corporation of Pierce County and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. He was a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party.
“Clyde believed in education for people — not just the trades but for everybody so they could move up the ladder,” said retired labor council Secretary-Treasurer Al Link. “He was a strong, compassionate labor leader and a good friend of the working people.”Rob Carson: 253-597-8693