After piling into a classic Oldsmobile sedan with no air conditioning, the Huck family would drive across the desert heat to make their yearly escape from Phoenix, Arizona to Coronado in the 1960s.
Bill Huck, now a Coronado resident since 1986 and prominent member of the community, fondly remembers the 4 a.m. wake up call to make the trek, as he squished into the backseat with his two siblings.
As routine would have it, the family would stop at the Stardust Hotel Restaurant in Yuma for breakfast on their journey and then take a ferry to cross the island before Coronado was accessible by bridge.
The trip, according to Huck, was always the highlight of the year.
On these week-long vacations, Bill’s father Len, who was the president of Arizona’s largest bank, Valley National Bank, had a clever way of teaching his kids about managing money.
A $4 budget
A $4 budget per day was allocated to each of them for meals.
Whatever money they didn’t use was given back to them in cash at the end of the vacation.
Bill quickly became money conscious.
It was a lesson he would take with him into the future as he followed in his father’s footsteps and became an investment banker.
Huck is the founder and CEO of Common Bond Capital Partners LLC, a company that provides innovative solutions for large-scale real estate development projects restricted by defaulted municipal bonds.
Before that, he was a partner and manager of the San Diego office of an investment bank called Stone & Youngberg. He also was a founding director of Coronado First Bank, which is now merged with CalPrivate Bank.
Navy ROTC at Stanford
Prefacing his illustrious career in banking, Huck attended Stanford University through the Navy ROTC program, served in the Navy for seven years and got his MBA at Stanford.
His formula of success was modeled by his father, who served in the Navy in WWII.
Huck said he always knew that he would go to college, serve his nation in the military and then go into banking because that is exactly what his father did.
His father and mother, Len and Sue Huck, still live in Scottsdale, Arizona at 100 and 99 years old, respectively.
Huck said his father, without a doubt, has been one of the most influential people in his life.
“My father, to this day…has been my life’s hero.”-Bill Huck on his father, Len.
“My father, to this day, and as of yesterday when I saw him last, has been my life’s hero,” Huck said while tearing up. “He and my mother were both president or chair of every civic operation or philanthropic organization in Arizona. Thirty five years removed from his being president of the bank, people remember him for his kindness, his warmth, his friendliness and his generosity.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor letter
After graduating first in his class at Arcadia High School in 1968 in Phoenix, Bill applied for the Navy ROTC scholarships at Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Northwestern.
He chose Stanford.
“This will become the immodest part of the conversation,” Huck said. “I like to finish first. I’m a competitive guy, so I was number one in my class in high school, a state champion swimmer, the president of the student body, and had all of the kinds of attributes that a place like Stanford was looking for.”
Bill’s friend, Brenda Arnold, provided a fun bit of information: Bill had Sandra Day O’Connor write a letter of recommendation for his admission into Stanford.
“I have never met anyone else who had a Supreme Court Justice write their recommendation letter for college.”Brenda Arnold, Huck’s friend on Sandra Day O’Connor’s letter.
“I have never met anyone else who had a Supreme Court Justice write their recommendation letter for college,” Arnold said.
First in class
Following that track of excellence, Bill also finished first in his class in the Navy ROTC program at Stanford and was able to choose his position and location.
For three years, he flew multi-engine airplanes, specifically a P-3 Orion, for Patrol Squadron 22 at Barbers Point in Oahu, Hawaii for the purpose of locating Soviet submarines during the Cold War. He went on two six-month deployments to Okinawa, Japan and the Philippines.
Ken Peterson, a lifelong friend of Huck’s, graduated from Stanford in the Navy ROTC program a year ahead of Huck, although they had only heard of each other at the time.
Peterson was the legal officer for the squadron at Barbers Point in Oahu when he got word that Huck from Stanford would be a new officer in VP-22.
“Sight unseen skipper, I’ll hire him. I want him to be my assistant.”-Ken Peterson, a lifelong friend of Bill Huck on their time in the Navy.
Peterson remembers telling his skipper: “Sight unseen skipper, I’ll hire him. I want him to be my assistant.”
He recalls Huck showing up in Oahu in a blue blazer, necktie and pants, which were a stark contrast to his own Hawaiian shirt and sandals.
He said they hit it off immediately.
“We are both hard workers,” Peterson said. “We were putting in long hours and we would end up pretty much every night going to dinner. We became known as a team there.”
Double date with future wife
In fact, Huck met his wife Joanie when the two of them were on a double date; however, Joanie was Peterson’s date for the first night.
“One date was sufficient for her, so she immediately went to the better candidate and latched onto Bill,” Peterson said.
Bill and Joanie were engaged after his second deployment to the Philippines, and Peterson was in the wedding in December 1977.
Along with their wives Joanie and Kristina, Huck and Peterson have remained close friends over the years, frequently going on family vacations together.
Career in banking
After serving the Navy for seven years, the last two of which were spent serving as an Admiral’s Aide, Huck decided to start a career in banking or finance.
He began by getting a Masters of Business Administration from Stanford and graduated in 1981.
Huck and his wife then moved to San Carlos with their 1 ½-year-old daughter Ashley, where Huck worked at the investment bank, Stone & Youngberg.
“Because of both of my parents’ involvement in the community, I always cared a lot about community building, how cities work, how public infrastructure is built and how people in a community work together to get things done,” Huck said.
He loved working with public agencies to raise money to build schools, city halls, sewer systems and public facilities.
In 1986, he was asked to run the San Diego office of the company’s firm.
Back to childhood vacation spot
So, the couple returned to Huck’s childhood vacation spot and bought a place in Coronado where they raised Ashley along with Myles and Evan.
Huck has since founded Common Bond Capital Partners LLC, a name reflective of his approach to business and life: creating common bonds with people by working constructively to solve problems.
“Bill is the type of person who takes on the challenge of what is seemingly impossible, where other people have thrown up their hands and given up.”-Friend Ken Peterson
“Bill is the type of person who takes on the challenge of what is seemingly impossible, where other people have thrown up their hands and given up,” Peterson said. “With his creativity, intelligence, integrity and very good communication skills, he has solved these very ticklish problems.”
The work of saving a failed real estate project encumbered by defaulted municipal bonds was described by Huck as a four dimensional Rubik’s Cube.
“I so much enjoyed the challenge, intellectually and financially, of buying something that was broken and putting it back together again so that it was walking and talking.”-Bill Huck
“I so much enjoyed the challenge, intellectually and financially, of buying something that was broken and putting it back together again so that it was walking and talking,” Huck said.
Huck said he has helped finance all of the public facility buildings in Coronado in the last 20 to 25 years, a point of personal pride.
His name, although not written in visible letters, is all over buildings like the high school, police station, middle school, elementary school, community center and north beach restroom.
And he remains involved in the community.
He was president of the Coronado MainStreet, whose goal is to revitalize the city’s downtown through preservation and beautification, and was part of the committees of the business advisory and tunnel commission.
Further, he’s very involved with Christ Episcopal Church Coronado, as well as the SunCoast Market Co-Op coming to Imperial Beach.
“I don’t know of anyone who opens their home more often or more readily to friends, neighbors, travel companions, acquaintances, and family, than Bill and Joanie Huck. They are amazing hosts,” said Arnold, one of the couple’s friends.