Sam Huff, one of the most beloved figures in Washington Redskins history, will return to Huff Farm in Middleburg within a week after an interim resolution regarding his care was reached Friday afternoon in Loudoun County Circuit Court. The agreement temporarily settled a dispute over whether Huff’s longtime partner or his daughter should care for the Hall of Fame linebacker, who, according to court documents, suffers from dementia stemming from either Alzheimer’s disease or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
While the court scheduled a trial for the end of March, the sides will undergo mediation beforehand in an attempt to avoid a public hearing, and Friday’s agreement put to momentary rest a months-long battle for guardianship of the 81-year-old Huff.
“The best I can say is, I’m glad he’s coming home,” said Carol Holden, Huff’s domestic and business partner with whom he has lived for 30 years.
On March 31, Huff’s daughter, Catherine Huff, picked him up from his horse farm in Middleburg. Catherine said she needed to take Huff to a dentist appointment, and Holden did not believe anything to be amiss. Catherine never returned Huff to Middleburg, and he has lived with Catherine in her Alexandria home since. In a flurry of legal motions, both sides expressed belief they should care for Huff.
Inside Courtroom C2 on Friday, roughly 20 supporters sat on Holden’s side of the court, and a couple sat behind Catherine. Huff did not appear. When the judge accepted the interim resolution and the March trial date, Holden’s supporters initially wondered what would become of Huff in the meantime. When Holden rose from the table, she walked toward them and announced, grinning wide, “He’ll be home in a week.”
She hugged friends and buried her face in the chest of Huff’s grandson. “He’s coming home,” she repeated.
“The family has been able to amicably resolve their differences, and Sam Huff should be returning to Huff Farm shortly,” the sides said in a joint statement issued by their lawyers. “The family appreciates everyone respecting their privacy during this time.”
In May, Holden asked the court in a petition to grant an emergency appeal and appoint her as Huff’s guardian. In court papers, Catherine Huff alleged Huff wore the same outfit for days at a time, sometimes ventured outside in winter without warm clothes and drove a car, endangering himself and others. In her motions, Holden accused Catherine of being unfit to take care for her father, saying, among other allegations, she once burned some of Huff’s belongings.
The sides gathered in court Friday for the emergency hearing. Eric Schell, Catherine’s lawyer, told Judge Stephen E. Sincavage the sides believed they could reach an agreement without trial. Sincavage encouraged them to come to a deal, citing how avoiding a court-ordered resolution in such cases “helps preserve the dignity of the respondent.”
Friends said Huff benefited from seeing familiar faces and enjoying routines in Middleburg, where he had become a prominent member of the community. Friday, some of them discussed how much they missed his daily company during breakfast at the Red Fox Inn, where they said he would light up the room just by walking in.
Asked why she felt it so important for Huff to live in Middleburg, Holden said, simply, “That’s where he’s always wanted to be.”
“It’s a good thing,” said Gordon Keyes, a friend of Huff’s for 40 years. “I think having all these people here was a big help to Carol. That shows where people stand in the community.”
For more than an hour after the resolution, Catherine sat in near-silence in a mostly empty courtroom while lawyers hashed out details, sometimes chatting in a whisper with Mary Huff, a granddaughter of Huff’s who represented herself as an interested party. Suddenly, with Holden sitting three rows behind her, she burst into tears and wiped them away with a tissue as Mary consoled her. Catherine exited shortly after with her lawyer, Deborah Matthews, declining to comment on her behalf.
The result Friday did not bring closure for Holden, but the interim resolution provided happiness and relief.
“It’s a good start,” she said.