Passing of Richard “Dick” Hunt Jr.

HUNT, Jr., Richard Henry


Richard Hunt known as ‘Dick’ to family and friends passed after a brief illness on November 27, 2013. Dick was born to Richard and Myra Hunt in November of 1929 in Somerville, New Jersey. In 1943, Dick’s family moved to Southern California. As a young man Dick enjoyed everything the mountains, ocean, and social opportunities Southern California had to offer. After graduating from Venice High School, he went to work on a commercial fishing vessel plying the waters of Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Dick loved to share his tales of hunting in Malibu and accidently shooting his friend in the butt climbing a hill to surprise some rabbits, surfing Santa Monica pier, and hanging out in honky tonks. Dick watched the draft numbers and knew his time was coming. He was drafted into the Army and was sent to Korea. Dick was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Calvary’s Battle for Pork Chop Hill and he said he could still feel the minus 25 degree Korean winter cold in his fingers and feet. His platoon was wiped out and he was critically wounded in the fighting. He dragged himself down the Hill and found only he and a medic corpsman survived the firefight. Over a period of decades he shared his experience in Korea with his family. We were aware he had been awarded the Purple Heart, but he had not shared his two Bronze Stars and Presidential Citation. After the war, Dick used his G.I. Benefit and enrolled in the Forestry program at Oregon State University at Corvallis, Oregon. On campus he met a beauty fresh off a Springfield, Oregon farm, Janice Shaw, who would become his wife. They married as students and struggled as many did to make ends meet. Dick was quite proud to have supplied fish and venison for the table during the lean school times. While at OSU, he and other forestry students planted trees on the clear-cut mountains in NW Oregon (When the television show Axe Men came out and they were ‘yarding’ logs off mountainsides he laughed and said, ‘I planted some of those trees nearly fifty years ago!’. He graduated from OSU’s Forestry program with a degree in Entomology. He was a ‘bug man’ and loved his title. In 1959, at the end of his college period, their first son Jim was born. After graduation the family moved to California where Dick worked in the San Andreas area running a California Division of Forestry inmate fire camp. Soon after, he accepted a position in Porterville, CA, where son Jon and daughter Jan were born. He continued to hunt and fish at every opportunity. During his time in Porterville, Dick began to make home brewed beer. More than once (as pictures can attest) they were too ‘hot’ and the bottles began blowing their caps spewing beer and foam six feet into the air to the delight of his children and neighbors. He perfected the art of brewing and bottling soon after. A few years went by and Dick was offered two positions with the Division of Forestry. One was in Riverside, the other in Sacramento. He and Jan chose Sacramento. They bought a home in South Sacramento and had fields in the back yard for the kids to explore. Dick’s business office was in the new Water Resources building in downtown Sacramento, but his real ‘office’ were the mountain forests of California. He once confessed he loved his job so much it threatened his marriage. During summers, while the children were young, he would often take one or two with him on his week-long forays into the woods where he shared his priceless knowledge of nature’s harsh and tender wonders. Dick had many passions in life but the one that many will remember him for was his talent for gardening. In his and Jan’s house near Pocket Road, he grew peaches, apples, and apricots esplanade style (like grape vines) along his backyard driveway. He worked his garden year-round for decades. He installed a custom irrigation system and raised pumpkins, tomatoes, blueberries, asparagus, sweet corn, Lima beans, sugar snap peas, Meyer lemons, pomegranates, a variety of apples, cherries, lettuce, cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower and he was always generous with his bounty. His gardens were always framed by beautiful perennial flowers as an accent. He canned and froze much of his harvest. His pickled cucumbers were always a favorite. They were so treasured by family and friends he had to hide the large pickle jars in his bedroom closet! Another passion was fishing the Sacramento River between Discovery Park and Clarksburg. He knew every inch of that water and loved nothing more than hopping into his ‘Cookie Jar’ at the Garcia Bend Marina and chase stripers, steelhead, and King salmon. He was a provider. Dick was a member of Bethany Presbyterian church and maintained the trees on the large property until he was physically unable to do so. He retired from the Department of Forestry as a Forester 3 at the age of fifty-five and maintained many of his professional friendships for nearly thirty years. His family has grown and he was a great-grandfather twice over on his passing. He loved nothing more than sharing a freshly picked apple with his little great granddaughter Ruby. It brought a twinkle to his eye to provide his simple home-grown wonder. Still sharing and providing.

Dick is survived by his sister Marjorie, children Cindy and Richard; sister Myra and husband Harold, nieces Nancy and Karen; son Jim and wife Diane, stepdaughter Jen and husband A.J. Andrade and great granddaughter Ruby who misses her ‘Poppy’; son Jon and wife Robin – children Ashley (husband David Witt), Jonathon, step-son Cameron; daughter Jan and fiance Dale McGill; sister-in-law June Shaw, children Anthony and Laurie; Dick will will be interred at Dixon, California’s Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will be held next Spring. An announcement will be forthcoming.

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