|The following obituary of Grady Lee Huffman was carried by the Associated Press (AP) AP-NY-01-24-90 1757EST|
Cancer Claims Life of Man Dubbed ‘Baby Bandit’
GRANBURY, Texas (AP) — Grady Lee Huffman, the bad-luck “Baby Bandit” of the 1930s who was shot 17 times in three decades of crime, died of cancer. He was 72.
Huffman, who died at home Tuesday in this town about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, claimed he once met the legendary Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow while hitchhiking, said his son, Grady Lee Huffman Jr.
“He told them he wanted to join them, but Bonnie called him a snotty-nosed punk kid,” said the younger Huffman. “He said, ‘Well, I’ll go make a name on my own.’
“He was born with a harelip,” his son said. “He was a freak and kids teased him. So he told them, ‘I’m going to rob all your mommies and daddies, just like Jesse James.'”
Huffman was paroled in 1967 and had led a quiet life since then, said the younger Huffman, who didn’t meet his father until 1968.
When he was 16 years old, the elder Huffman stole a car in Waco, but collided with a car driven by the sheriff.
Huffman picked up the “Baby Bandit” nickname at age 18 in 1934 after leading Fort Worth police on a wild, bullet-punctuated chase. He was captured after being shot in the face, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Huffman began his next career: escape.
He tried to break out of prison in 1935, escaped for four days in 1942, broke out the next year and spent four months on the lam, and tried to escape again the same year. In 1944, he busted out and stayed free for 20 months.
Huffman married Judy, the first of his two wives, during that last escape, his son said.
“That was when I was born,” he said. “In Dublin on Oct. 16, 1944. The night I was born, you’ll find there was a jewelry store robbed there.”
In spite of his record, Huffman was one of 10 convicts pardoned in 1947 by outgoing Gov. Coke R. Stevenson.
Two years later, Huffman was in trouble again.
“Of all times he picked to rob a Coca-Cola plant, he picked the night they were having a policeman’s convention in Vernon,” the son said. “They all came shooting at him, but they were so drunk they didn’t kill him.”
Huffman drew 399 years in prison.
The younger Huffman said he once told his father of his plans to follow in his footsteps, and got some fatherly advice: “Son, if I couldn’t beat them before they had radios and computers, you don’t stand a chance.”
“He was a fascinating old man,” said his son. “A hellacious old man.”
Huffman’s widow, Irene, said her husband became a Christian in his final months.
“I was just an Arkansas hillbilly when I met him,” she said. “I thought I saw a man who wanted to go straight, and he told me what he’d done.
“But I never in my wildest dreams < — > well, I thought things like that happened only in the movies. I thought it was just a tall Texas tale.”
In addition to his widow and son, Huffman is survived by another son and a sister. Funeral services were scheduled Friday in Cleburne.