Barbara Huston: Co-founder of Festival of Lights Parade

Mrs. Huston

Barbara “Bobbie” Huston, co-founder of the annual Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade, died Dec. 3 after battling cancer. She was 92.

Mrs. Huston was born July 26, 1927, in Hettinger, N.D. Her childhood was shaped by loving parents who partnered in making a living in South Dakota.

“Mom was an only child, and her imagination and ingenuity were fully utilized in entertaining herself while growing up in what she admitted was in the middle of nowhere,” said Maridee Charlton, Mrs. Huston’s daughter. “She loved to dance and always wanted to be a professional dancer. She grew up dancing and ultimately wanted to be a Rockette, but at 5 feet 2 inches, she wasn’t tall enough.”

Mrs. Huston’s family later moved to Iowa.

“In high school in Marshalltown, Iowa, she was a very good drummer, and mom competed in state competitions leading up to college and was state champion for two years,” said Robin Johnston, Mrs. Huston’s daughter.

Mrs. Huston attended the University of Iowa and earned a degree in education and speech pathology. While in college, she continued her pursuit of drumming and dance by joining the all-girls Iowa Hawkeyes Scottish Highlanders Drumming and Bagpipe Band.

Mrs. Huston found her lifelong partner when she met Jack Huston on a blind date. They married in 1950 and made Los Altos their home.

Jack and his brother-in-law, Billy Russell, established the Los Altos menswear retail store Russell-Huston.

Serving the community

Mrs. Huston was integral to the success of the business and worked side-by-side with Jack in numerous store locations, schools and community efforts.

“Mom was proud of her teaching years at a junior high school in Mountain View. She was very involved in both Robin and my lives growing up,” Charlton said. “She enjoyed being a Girl Scout leader, PTA president, president of the Los Altos High Band Booster Club and a longtime member of the American Association of University Women.”

Mrs. Huston’s commitment to the city continued while serving on the Los Altos Beautification Committee (now known as the Planning Commission), volunteering at the History Museum and co-founding the Festival of Lights Parade.

“I know mom was extremely proud of the fact that she and dad were founding board members of the Festival of Lights Parade Association, and she continued to serve this association throughout 2019,” Charlton said.

The Hustons also played key roles in the passage of bonds for the fire station near Los Altos City Hall and the ongoing development of El Camino Hospital.

Mrs. Huston was an athlete who enjoyed playing golf, tennis and bocce ball. She started playing golf at age 11, and she and Jack were members of Los Altos Golf & Country Club, the Stanford Golf Club and the Villages Golf & Country Club in San Jose. The Hustons also were huge supporters of Stanford University athletics.

“Mom was religious in her support of the Stanford women’s basketball and hardly ever missed a home game,” Johnston said.

Mrs. Huston moved into The Terraces at Los Altos in 2017.

Although she had a major impact on the community, her biggest impact was on her family.

“Mom had a very sly and sneaky sense of humor, and she always kept encounters with her lively,” Johnston said. “She was a hardworking, caring and loving mother and grandma. Her welcoming demeanor combined with loving guidance has given our family and her friends unlimited and timeless fond memories.”

Mrs. Huston was preceded in death by her parents, Russ and Edna Ginter, and her husband, Jack.

She is survived by her daughters Maridee (Bruce) Charlton and Robin (Bill) Johnston as well as three grandchildren, Michael Johnston, Casey Charlton and Brian Johnston.

A Celebration of Life is scheduled in Mrs. Huston’s honor 3 p.m. Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church, 1040 Border Road, Los Altos. A reception will follow in the church parish hall.

The family requests that donations in her name be sent to the Festival of Lights Parade Association, PO Box 996, Los Altos 94023, or to Pathways Home Health and Hospice, 85 N. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale 94085.

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