Mourners pack MVHS’s gym to honor Dave Huckins 

  • A memorial display for Dave Huckins at Merrimack Valley High School on Saturday.

  • Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

  • Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Saturday, September 16, 2017

More than 1,000 mourners filled the Merrimack Valley High School gym Saturday to pay tribute to Dave Huckins, the 1989 graduate who was a scoring machine on the court and, in the biggest basketball game in school history – a game Huckins missed due to injury – an inspiration off it.

Huckins died on Sept. 10 after a year-long battle with salivary gland cancer. He was the founder of Huckleberry Propane and Oil in Loudon, a company he ran with his wife, Tracy Morin.

The couple’s two daughters, Cassidy and Carly Huckins, flanked their mother, the three joined by their hands in the center of a 16-chair semicircle in front of one of the gym’s baskets, which was stuffed with roses. Below lay Huckins’s wood-polished casket.

Above the basket hung a banner, illuminated by spotlight, listing the school’s 11 1,000-point scorers, including Huckins.

Several speeches were given, and a note written by Huckins’s mother, Diane Keniston, was read. “Losing a child is something you can never prepare for,” it read.

Cassidy, a student at Southern New Hampshire University, played for her father when he coached the Merrimack Valley girls’ team to its lone state title, in 2014.

“To say I had my dad by my side the whole time is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Cassidy told the crowd.

Said Chris Irving, Huckins’s best friend, “This community was why he was successful in 1989.”

Huckins was a senior star on that ’89 team, but he stepped on Irving’s foot during practice before the state championship game against Con-Val Regional. He sprained his ankle and didn’t play, instead watching from the sideline, his crutches nearby.

Merrimack Valley was losing by 18 points late in the third quarter when Huckins began waving his crutches to awaken the somber Merrimack Valley fans.

The game turned immediately, and MV won, 57-54.

“He  decided his job was not done,” said Kevin O’Brien,  Huckins’s coach at the time.  “The (Con-Val) Cougars didn’t think David was playing in that game.”