One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 12, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
This was a sad week for the Town of Pembroke, NC. On Wednesday April 8, 2015 the mayor, the Honorable Milton Ray Hunt passed away. He had an operation on his heart in the fall and never was able to regain his health.
He is survived by his wife, of forty-seven years, Polly Hunt; a son, Anthony Hunt (Amy Hunt) of Pembroke and a daughter, Kimberly Hunt Mertz (Ricky Mertz) of Pembroke, NC; six grandchildren: Dustin Hunt, Brandy Hunt, Alanna Lawson, Austin Hunt, Angela Hunt, RJ Mertz, Jr.; four great-grandchildren: Jaden, Ian, Raylon, Addison; three sisters: Pat Howell (Mark Howell); Pam Prosser, Linda Owens, all residents of Charleston, SC; two brothers: Michael Sawyer, Kenny Sawyer; and a step-father, James Sawyer, who all reside in Charleston.
Milton Hunt had served as mayor for thirty-three years (1982-2015). Prior to being the mayor he served on the Town Council for eight years (1974-1982). I got to know Milton Hunt when I first moved to Pembroke in 1977 when he was on town council and he always treated me with respect and often shared a great story or joke.
He kept up with the successes of our athletic teams at UNC Pembroke. He also was a big supporter of the movement to add football to UNCP in 2007. Mayor Hunt was on the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees from 2005-2009 and was appointed by Governor Mike Easley. It was during Mayor Hunt term that record enrollment took place at UNCP.
Under Milton’s leadership the Town of Pembroke saw much growth that mirrored the growth of the university. I still remember his pride when Pembroke got a super Wal-Mart.
He embodied public service to not only the Town of Pembroke but the region. He served from 1997-2001 as the Chairman of the Robeson County Democratic Party, as a Board of Trustee member at UNC-Pembroke; and, historically he was elected and served as the first Tribal Chairman for the Lumbee Tribe. The list of his other contributions is varied but Milton Hunt was someone everyone in town, the county, and state knew. The walls, of his home office, are filled with awards and special recognition plaques that demonstrate the way others felt about the Mayor. He was devoted to the community he lived in, his entire life, and was the kind of leader, neighbor and friend any person would benefit from knowing.
Milton was affectionately referred to as “Mousy Ray”, he never met a stranger; and, he was very much a tribal/town historian. He loved an audience where he could tell a story, a joke, or brag on his love the Town of Pembroke. Milton will be greatly missed by all.
One friend was former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt.
The Friend- MILTON HUNT-
Photo from 1984-left to right: McDuffie Cummings, Milton Hunt, Francesca Adler (Miss North Carolina, 1984), Florence Ransom, Greg Cummings in the back, Lee Pam Oxendine (Miss Lumbee, 1984), unidentified man, Henry Ward Oxendine, and J. C. Thomas.
The Friend of the Friend – JIM HUNT
The Two Hunts
When it came to winning elections-Jim Hunt is at the top of the list for Governors. He was North Carolina Governor twice (1977–1985, and 1993–2001). He is the longest-serving governor in the state’s history. He had to win election in 1976, re-election in 1980, election in 1992 and re-election in 1996.
Milton Hunt was a democratic precinct chairperson who had assisted in a number of political candidates with their campaigns. The list was large and included a US Senate campaigns for John Ingram against Jesse Helms, Terry Sanford, and Tony Rand. He was also involved in Jim Hunt’s Governor Campaigns in 1992 and 1996.
The two Hunts were not related but they were connected by their love of politics.
Under Governor Hunt’s leadership, North Carolina consistently ranked at the top of the nation in economic growth, job creation and capital investment, and was nationally recognized for its business climate. Ever mindful that establishing the future economic prowess of his state depended on the “new economy,” he established the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. The state quickly became known as the most innovative state in the nation in biotechnology and IT.
Governor Hunt earned his BS and MS from North Carolina State University and his JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 1966. He and his wife, Carolyn, live on their beef cattle farm in Eastern North Carolina, located on land that has been in his family since the county was formed. The Hunts raise purebred Simmental beef cattle that have won state bull tests and received both Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion designations at the North Carolina State Fair. The Hunts have four children and ten grandchildren.
In Robeson County Democratic Party circles the name Hunt evokes lots of positive energy whether it is the former Governor or Pembroke’s long time mayor.
Mayor Milton Hunt will be missed by his friend Jim Hunt and lots of others.