Before Ryan Huff was killed Thursday night in a gun battle during a domestic dispute near Sand Springs, the former Bartlesville Public School District principal was known to have a passion for teaching and expressed a genuine love for kids.
Huff, 43, and Douglas Dick, 46, died in a shooting that also injured a woman at a home in the 18900 block of West Wekiwa Road, according to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators believe Dick shot his wife in an apparent domestic dispute before shooting at Huff, who returned fire.
Sheriff’s deputies responded about 8:10 p.m. to the home just north of the Arkansas River between Sand Springs and the Keystone Dam after a neighbor noticed a bleeding woman lying in front of his home, according to a previous story.
When deputies and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers approached the house, they discovered Dick and Huff dead inside, along with bullet holes “everywhere,” spokeswoman Casey Roebuck said Thursday. The woman was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive.
Huff, 43, was formerly a principal at Central Middle School before he became the director of athletics and activities, according to a district news release. He left about a year ago to work for Oklahoma Connections Academy, an online public school.
Debbie Matney said Huff was the principal who hired her to teach sixth-grade English at the middle school. He was in that role for three years before she moved to Texas, but the two kept in touch.
She said she last spoke to Huff over the phone two months ago regarding online school options. Matney had a friend who was interested, and Huff was “someone you could call.”
Out of all the “great” administrators she has worked with, Matney said Huff was in her top two.
Huff had a way of taking care of his teachers and knowing who they were. He created “a family atmosphere,” Matney said.
“I call him a teacher’s or a student’s principal,” she told the Tulsa World during a phone interview Saturday.
Matney recalled a day early on in a school year when she passed Huff in the hallway on the way to lunch.
She said a boy with special needs was obviously nervous to go to lunch, and Huff was walking with him, holding his hand and gently reassuring him.
“Here’s this man who’s in charge of this entire school and he’ll stop at lunchtime to walk a kid to lunch who probably needs it,” Matney said.
She also remembered Huff driving out to the scene of a car accident in which an employee’s car was totaled. He wanted to make sure she knew it was OK to miss work for the day.
He loved sports and the Bartlesville Bruins, and he enjoyed rummaging through the school’s century of history stored in old locker rooms. One could often catch him in a hallway sporting a letterman’s jacket from the ‘50s or ‘60s, she said.
“It just breaks my heart for his family,” Matney said. “He loved his kids.”
While Huff was principal at the middle school, it underwent a $12.1 million restoration and was named a Great Expectations Model School for three consecutive years, according to the district’s release.
“(Huff) will be sorely missed, and his family members will need support from their many connections in the school district,” the release stated.
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