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In Memory of . . . James D. Hunt (1931-2011)

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Monday, February 28, 2011

The Rev. Dr. James D. Hunt died on January 12, 2011. He was 79 years old.  Dr. Hunt was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 28, 1931, to Richard and Elizabeth D. Hunt. He later became stepson to John L. Daneker. Dr. Hunt graduated from East Greenwich, R.I. High School in 1948, Tufts College in 1952, and Boston University in 1958 upon receiving his Masters of Theology. He earned a Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 1965. His thesis was "James Luther Adams and his Demand for an Effective Religious Liberalism.”

He served as Associate Minister at Medford Hillside Universalist Church in Medford, MA, and Assistant Minister at Rockport Universalist Church in Rockport, MA, before being called to Acton Community University Church of South Acton, MA, where he served from 1954-1958 and where he was ordained in 1955. He also served as an Interim Minister for a summer at Blanchester Universalist Church in Blanchester, OH, and later as Minister of Cortland Universalist Church in Cortland, NY, from 1958-1961. In addition, he served at the First Unitarian Society of Albany, NY while a doctoral student.

Dr. Hunt made the decision to leave active ministry and devote his full attention to his academic pursuits in 1961. While earning his Ph.D. at Syracuse, he joined the faculty of the Dept. of Religion. After receiving his doctorate, Hunt joined the faculty of Tufts School of Religion - Crane Theological School in 1965. Upon its closure in 1968, Dr. Hunt found his ultimate and permanent home at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, through a civil rights era program that placed white professors at predominantly black colleges in the South.

For almost 30 years he was a Professor of Ethics and Religion at Shaw University. He had a passion for fairness and justice, which led him to study the philosophies of Mohandas K. Gandhi. He published four books on Mahatma Gandhi; Gandhi’s own grandson, Gopal Gandhi, noted Dr. Hunt’s ability to write and speak on Gandhi in an objective way. Hunt, like Gandhi, was an ardent proponent of non-violent protest. He was an activist for social change throughout the course of his life, from his engagement in the Civil Rights Movement through his struggle to put an end to the death penalty. Hunt was involved with Amnesty International, ACLU, Witness for Peace, Peace Action, CITCA, People of Faith against the Death Penalty, and the Congress of Racial Equality. His passions also extended to cycling, reading, hiking, folk dancing, playing the recorder, singing, travel and of course, his family.

Dr. Hunt is survived by his wife Jane (Henry) Hunt and his children, their partners, and his grandchildren - Sarah, Bob and Rivers; Nathan, Dove, Hannele and Pascal; Priscilla, Doug, Tasker and Owen; Jennifer, Marty, Caleb, Zachary and Hannah. Along with Jane, they are most grateful for his life.

A celebration of the life of Dr. James D. Hunt was held on Friday, February 18, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, NC. Contributions can be made to the Memorial Fund of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3313 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27606.

Please send messages of condolence to Jane Hunt, 120 Pineland Cir, Raleigh, NC 27606-1313.

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