Hugh Haffner, longtime PUD commissioner, dies at 72

Port Angeles resident had complications from stroke

Hugh Haffner

Hugh Haffner

PORT ANGELES — Hugh Haffner, a longtime Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner who resigned his position in June 2018, has died, family members said.

Haffner, a Port Angeles resident, died from complications related to a stroke Saturday, his wife, Diane Haffner said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Haffner, 72, worked as an attorney — specializing in bankruptcy work since the mid-1980s — until his retirement in July of 2010, Diane said.

“He loved the area, he loved the community, he loved the work,” she said. “Doing bankruptcy [litigation] is helping his people. That was what he was all about: helping people.”

Haffner served as a Clallam County PUD commissioner for 24 years. He was appointed to a two-year term in 1994, ran unopposed in 1996, defeated opponents in 2002 and 2008, and ran unopposed in 2014.

“One of the things he was very dedicated to and fought very hard [for] was to keep the rates low, rather than to assume a rate increase from Bonneville [Power Administration] automatically would go the rate payers,” Diane said. “He did quite a few battles.”

Haffner also wound up advocating for Clallam PUD users outside the boardroom, Diane said.

“We took a lot of calls from people dealing with problems with PUD; he always reached out to them and talked to them and pointed them in the right direction,” she said.

“[It was] the people: that was kind of his big thing. He wanted to protect the rate payers … he worked with other commissioners [around the state] to make sure the PUD always had some sort of protected interests, that the people on the Olympic Peninsula were not overlooked with power and water.”

Haffner was replaced by appointed PUD Commissioner David Anderson in July 2018.

“With the PUD there have been really special people who … he enjoyed working with,” Diane said. “[On the PUD commission there were] different opinions, but it was very professional. There was nothing personal about their arguments.”

Haffner also served on numerous boards and committees since moving to Port Angeles from Arizona, including the Economic Development Council (EDC), a local Rotary group and the Clallam County Parks and Recreation Commission.

“It was my pleasure to serve on the PUD commission with Hugh Haffner,” PUD Commissioner Will Purser said in a press release. “Hugh always had a ready smile and laugh. He represented the interest of PUD customers and the community with his extensive background in law, accounting and public life. He shared his pride in his family with stories of his home life and vacations. He will be missed.”

“Hugh contributed many years as a commissioner to the success of the PUD,” said PUD General Manager Doug Nass. “We are saddened by his passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Diane, and his children.”

Haffner was hurt in a single-vehicle car crash in 2013. Diane said doctors had never been able to clearly identify why that happened, and Haffner said in later years that he suffered complications from the incident.

Haffner had a stroke soon after the crash, Diane said, and then had another significant stroke a few weeks ago. He eventually became unresponsive to the point where he couldn’t lift his hands or walk. Two weeks later, he died.

Hugh and Diane Haffner were married in 1985. One stepson preceded Hugh in death. The couple adopted and raised four children together.

Outside of work and serving on boards and commissioners, Hugh enjoyed miniature trains and connecting with his children, Diane said.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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