Obituary of James D. Hunt
James D. Hunt, who retired in 1997 after a 41 year career with the Joseph F. Biddle Publishing Company of Huntingdon, including 16 years as managing editor, and 14 years as Editor of The Huntingdon Daily News, passed peacefully on Wednesday, November 25th, 2020. Jim was born in East Conemaugh Borough, a suburb of Johnstown, on January 19, 1935, the son of Donald R. and Helen Margaret (Palmer) Hunt. His parents and his sister Jean Ann (Hunt) Stuart preceded him in death. His loving wife and partner, Nan passed in December of 2017. Jim attended elementary school at East Conemaugh and two years of school at West Alexandria Junior-Senior High School before attending and graduating from Richland Township High School. Jim often relayed stories of his after-school job as a soda jerk to his children in an effort to persuade them to work hard! Juniata College was his choice for further education, leading the way for more ‘Hunts’ to follow. He began his studies at Juniata in the fall of 1952; was named sports editor of the student newspaper – The Juniatian and the following year began a two-year stint as editor of the paper including the year it received All-American Honors. He served on the Student Senate at Juniata College as Director of Communications and was president of the Student Senate in his senior year. As a student at Juniata he worked as a football statistician in the press box – a Saturday afternoon joy that he continued for 45 years. As an undergraduate he edited and published the basketball programs. Later he served as a journalism instructor at his alma mater several times and on two occasions he served as Sports Information Director. His love of journalism led him to the love of his life when he met his future wife, Nancy Heller at Juniata while both served as staff on the college paper, marking the start of more than just a long journalism career. On the afternoon of June 4, 1956, he was united in marriage to Nan E. Heller of Hollidaysburg. The wedding took place in the Stone Church of the Brethren with Dr. Calvert N. Ellis presiding. Earlier that same day Dr. Ellis conferred their degrees from Juniata College in an Oller Hall Ceremony. A celebration of family and friends followed at Erculiani’s Restaurant. Following his graduation from Juniata he began his journalistic career as new editor of a series of weekly newspapers anchored by the Progress in Clairton, PA. His early time in the backyard of Pittsburgh led to a lifetime of love for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates with his highlight ‘being in the stands when Bill Mazeroski hit his 9th inning home run in the 1960 World Series.’ On February 1, 1957, Hunt began his career at The Huntingdon Daily News and began his long association with the Biddle and Shore families. Shortly before Jim returned to Huntingdon, the Huntingdon Area Jaycees were formed; he joined the organization and eventually served three separate terms as president including one when the local chapter was honored as an outstanding Jaycee Chapter in the USA. Jim, Nan, and their family lived at 2722 Warm Springs Road; a neighborhood full of good, fun-loving people. Neighborhood picnics, holiday gatherings, card games, pool parties, hide and seek till dark were the norm. And friendships that lasted a lifetime. Always interested in government, Jim served a four year term as a member of the Huntingdon Borough Council, and was an early advocate in the push to secure authorization for the construction of the public dam on Raystown Branch of the Juniata River and development of Raystown Lake and served as a driving force in the public relations portion of the development. Raystown Lake and the rivers nearby led Jim to a love of fishing and boating, and he brought both his children into the love of being on the water. Jim was an active leader in the development of Huntingdon Business and Industry and was a member of the original Committee of Thirty and maintained his membership and interest as it grew into Huntingdon County Business and Industry. His greatest pride were the young men and women that he recruited to serve as news people at The Daily News and the great record of accomplishments they achieved during their years at Huntingdon paper. In his retirement he had served as an original member of the Smithfield Township Economic Development Corporation (STEDCO). The Warm Springs homestead served them well till they built their dream house in the wooded acres at Loveland Drive. While living at Lone Oak Acres, they perfected their gardens, orchards, birding skills, and made the finest maple syrup. In 2007 Jim and Nan sold Lone Oak Acres and moved to a cottage at the Valley View Retirement Village in Belleville, overlooking the playground of a Mennonite school yard. Jim and Nan continued to travel, after two trips cross country with their children, and after adding their last two U.S. states – Alaska and Hawaii – to round off their 50; they ventured to Iceland, France, Austria, Germany, and the Caribbean. In Belleville, Jim remained active in the resident association and served a year as president and for a number of years edited the monthly newsletter for the Valley View Villagers. Remembering and missing Jim are his brother Richard and his nieces Christine and Michelle Hunt; daughter Cathy Renee and her husband Dixon Sherman of Cordova, Alaska and a son Douglas Alan and his wife Karen (McMichaels) Hunt of Vancleave, Mississippi. He was preceded in death by a granddaughter Rachel W. (Sherman) Ronnegard. Still fondly remembering him as “Poppy,” are granddaughters Margaret (Maggie) Hunt of Brooklyn, New York, and Leslie, married to Stephen Salter of Vancleave, Mississippi. Four great-grandchildren also loved him as their ‘GREAT Poppy,’ Silas and Aletheia, of Homer, Alaska, and Sydney and Sam Salter of Vancleave, Mississippi. Also keeping Jim in their hearts are his brother-in-law Don and Helen Heller of Marionville, PA. and his niece Michelle (Heller) Watts and husband Whit of Indiana, PA. Missing Jim during sports season in particular, will be his special niece Suzi (Heller) Karpowicz and her husband and very close friend of Jim’s – Paul Karpowicz. Finally, to all the waitresses of Belleville and Reedsville, who took such good care of him and his kind and thoughtful neighbors and friends at Valley View, the family offers heartfelt thanks. Following cremation, a private graveside service will be held at the convenience of the family at the Fairfield Cemetery near New Florence. It was the Jim’s request that there be no viewing or memorial services. All of the Hunt family have been cared for by Jim’s brother-in-law Kenneth A. Stuart and now under the direction of Jim’s kind nephew, Richard C. Stuart, his wife Tammy (Heming) Stuart and first niece, Donna Jean (Stuart) Leiendecker of Lamington, NJ. Their family again assists with all arrangements in care of Kenneth A. Stuart Funeral Home, New Florence, PA. Online condolences may be left at www.thestuartfuneralhomes.com It is the request of the deceased that flowers be omitted and that memorial gifts be made to Juniata College or the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital Foundation. Postscript: And yes, as you can imagine, Papa wrote his own obituary, but his daughter who followed in his journalist footsteps, offered to edit, and add a little life to the deceased. His last answer to me was still, no, but I quipped, “what are you going to do about it?” And then he chuckled. His version is all still here…just with a little added poetic license.