Cal Huge

Received June 11, 2010                                      

 

WISCONSIN HIGH 50TH REUNION

 

 

Glad to catch up a bit with folks who I haven't been in touch with for far too many years. I have had one adventure after another and find retirement somewhat dull even though this is the 4th or 5th time I have tried it.

 

What follows is a short bit that the Florida State University School of Business did about me in the fall of 2007 just before I retired -- again.

 

Cal Huge has spent much of his career turning businesses around. In his latest business endeavor, he's also helping to transform lives.

Huge, a 1964 graduate of Florida State University's College of Business, is CEO of Mercy Ships, www.mercyships.org, a global charity that sends hospital ships providing health services to the world's poorest nations.

It's no small operation. The organization boasts of $71.5 million in assets and annual cash flows of about $45 million, Huge said. Last year the group provided nearly $50 million of medical services to 52,700 patients. Surgeons have corrected blindness, removed tumors, repaired cleft palates and more.

"We want people to see the face of a loving God in what we do for them," Huge said. "To me this organization is one of the best-kept secrets in the United States. What these people have done over the years is just amazing to me."

Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens recruited Huge to Mercy Ships in 2006 because he needed someone to ready the business operation for the future.

"He can speak like he's a colonel on the front line but also show his heart through tears," Stephens said of Huge. "That's a rare combination."

Huge has been leading Mercy Ships' Texas-based operations and its offices worldwide through a comprehensive reorganization process that includes a new organizational chart and upgraded financial and training systems. He said his biggest challenge to date was cutting through the red tape involved in getting the new 78-bed Africa Mercy ship out of England and on to Africa. The ship, which cost $62.5 million to convert into a hospital, finally set sail in May. Africa Mercy provides a CT scan, X-ray and lab services, six operating rooms and enough space to house a crew of 450.

Huge said his career got a great start at FSU, which recruited him from Madison, Wisconsin, to play basketball. He remembers living with his late wife in the new couples section of Alumni Village for $70 a month. Grateful for an education, he said he signed up for the most challenging courses in finance, wanting to absorb all the knowledge he could.

"Florida State gave me the opportunity, because of my athletic ability, to do what my parents dreamed," Huge said. "My parents could not have afforded to pay to send me to college."

Guiding Mercy Ships is just the latest stop on Huge's varied life journey. After earning a law degree in 1968 at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, Huge worked as a financial analyst then lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. After his first wife passed away, Huge moved with his children to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked for a large law firm.

After a year in Ohio, he married Libussa Brabner-Smith and later became manager of a 2,000-acre farm in South Carolina. He's also worked as a high school basketball coach, financial administrator, then president of a school in North Carolina and as headmaster at a South Carolina school.

Huge has retired several times. He spent most of 2004 and 2005 racing his sailboat and writing a historical fiction novel that is still in development. Then, in December 2005, he jumped back into work, running the financial operation for a non-government airline in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"Sometimes people like to put a lot of fancy titles on leadership and success. He's just an example of a guy who works hard," said Bobby Jones, a former Olympic basketball player who worked with Huge at Charlotte Christian School. "He's never looking for glory and never wants the glory. That's the kind of person people want to help."

Huge leads by doing, said Greg Gombar, chairman of the school board during Huge's Charlotte tenure. He dubs Huge "a turnaround artist" for his success at diving into financial messes and fixing them.

"He's a very high-energy guy," Gombar said. "When he sets his mind to it, he's very passionate."

 

Here is a little more detail for those who really have nothing better to do than to read about “old guys”. I graduated from FSU in 64, Catholic University Law School in 68; worked at SEC from 66 through 69 then went to New York for 10 months, back to SEC from late 69 through 73. Joined a law firm in Cleveland in late 73. Stayed there until 78 when I took over family real estate and farming operation in SC. In 87 we moved to Switzerland where I managed a relief and development organization in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Back to USA in 90 for health reasons and, sort of, retired. Liquidated the real estate company and coached basketball for 3 years. Players' parents were a pain. In late 93 moved to Charlotte to become financial manager for Charlotte Christian School. I got blind sided by my wife and Bobby Jones.  Ended up president of school and retired in 2001 after some health issues and finding my successor. Got restless after a year and moved to SC to help with a small struggling school in Charleston. I kept our boat in Charleston so it seemed like a good place to be. After having “vision” differences with the board, I retired from that in December of 04. Spent most of 05 writing and racing our sailboat up and down the east coast.  The book is actually being edited now, but they tell me they need the ending.  Someday this year, they may get it. 

 

In Dec 05 went to Kabul for six months to help with small airline. Bu joined me for 2 months in the spring of 06 and taught English to Afghan women. This may have been the most interesting and rewarding undertaking of my life.  I went back in the spring of 09 for a month to assist with an audit.  I would return there in a heartbeat, if family would allow.  (I may go anyway.)

 

In October of 06 became CEO of Mercy Ships to assist in reorganization and getting the new ship out of the shipyard in Scotland and to Africa. In Dec 07 retired to come home and help Bu with her mom and other family matters. Stayed retired so far.

 

Family Details:

First wife – Jeanne Condon from Deerfield, Illinois died at age 31 in 73 from cancer. We had three children -- 2 sons and one daughter.

 

Libussa and I married in '74. Brave young thing to take us on (she was 23). I like to tell people I married the babysitter.  Partially true, since she did help with the kids and her mother  -- now my mother-in-law – and my first wife were good friends.

Bu is an amazing woman.  Forever young.  We are a classic example of opposites attracting.  I thought she was a child and she called me “Mr. Huge” – almost until we got married.  Bu gave up what could have been an international level riding career to marry me and become the mother of all of our children.  She was an accomplished riding instructor who taught overseas as well as here at home.  She speaks at least four languages fluently and taught AP French as well as German classes at the many levels.  She will tell you that the teaching experience in Afghanistan was the most rewarding of any she has had.  We had two more boys.

 

Our oldest child Chris turned 48 this year.  Typing that makes me really feel old.  He has three children who we don’t get to see much of since Chris and his first wife divorced several years ago.  He has remarried and has two step sons.  They live in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  Chris played football at and graduated from William & Mary.

 

Next is line is Patrick who is 44.  Shawna and Pat live on the farm in Northern Virginia where Bu grew up.  Pat is an ex-marine who fought in the first gulf war and is now a financial manager for several individual and institutional clients.  They have three children.  Their oldest is a rising senior at VMI.  Their only daughter will be a sophomore at the College of Charleston.  It is great to have here near us.  Their youngest is a rising Junior in high school in Middleburg, Virginia.  Patrick graduated from American University in Washington, DC.

 

The rose between thorns – translation = only daughter with two older and two younger brothers.  Samantha was born in 1969.  She is not married, but would like to be.  She is the Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Delaware.  She has enjoyed a wonderful career in college athletics serving at the Southern Conference, University of Illinois, Michigan State University, Wake Forest University, Georgetown University and her current position.  She is still “my little girl.” She is a graduate of Gordon College and Campbell School of Law.

 

Eli is 34 and a professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.  Eli just finished a year at the University of California in Berkeley as a visiting professor.  Jennifer and Eli have two little girls ages 6 and 5 months.  Both Eli and Jenn graduated from Yale.  Eli also received his master’s there.  He is an architect.  After spending several years with Cesar Pelli and Associates in New Haven, Eli wanted more time for his own work and began his teaching career.  He has won several awards for design and is currently working on several projects for individuals.

 

Nick is our youngest.  Jennifer (yes the two younger boys married “Jennifers”) and Nick live in North Carolina and have three children ages 7, 5 and 2.  Older children are girls and the youngest is a boy.  Nick works for the government and spends about half his time somewhere other than NC.  We see these kids the most since they are fairly close and Nick is gone lots.  Nick played basketball at and graduated from the University of Illinois.  At one point – don’t remember the year -- while he was at Illinois we visited Madison for the NCAA tournament when Illinois lost to Kansas.  It was a great visit.  Coach Metzen and his wife came to meet us for lunch and got to meet Nick.  Needless to say Nick was a much better player than dad.  Coach told some stories that didn’t need telling.

 

I spend most of my time now enjoying family, scuba diving with Bu, racing the boat at various venues up and down the coast and doing some consulting work. 

 

Received:  June 8, 2015

Wisconsin High School 55th Reunion

 

Since I wrote too much for the 50th, this will be bullet point updates of the last five years.

 

Stayed retired, more or less.  Still do some consulting on legal and governance matters.  Bu is active with lots of things and tries to keep up with me.

If anyone makes it down this way, give us a call or email

 

Received:  June 8, 2015 

Wisconsin High School 55th Reunion

 

Since I wrote too much for the 50th, this will be bullet point updates of the last five years.

If anyone makes it down this way, give us a call or email