David Hunt

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David Hunt
Nov. 22, 1951 - Jan. 11, 2011

David (Dave) Dirickson Hunt, longtime community organizer and citizen activist, of Weston Mountain, passed away suddenly of an aneurysm on Jan. 11, 2011. He was 59.

Dave was born in Salina, Kan., on Nov. 22, 1951, to Joyce and James "Bob" Hunt. He graduated from Salina High School in 1969 and attended college in Texas and Kansas.

Dave moved to Salem in July 1977 and spent 27 years in Salem, where he made enduring contributions to the state of Oregon, to his community and to the world. Dave cultivated a career in public service and activism, which focused on alternative energy and transportation, conflict resolution and citizen diplomacy to promote world peace. Dave founded the Salem-Simferopol (Ukraine) Sister City Association and worked for many years to improve communication between Americans and Soviets through a variety of channels that included initiating and coordinating three U.S./U.S.S.R. Sister City Conferences in the 1980s. Dave served as executive director for the Salem chapter of the Nobel Prize-winning group Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). In 1994, his work with PSR earned him the prestigious Broad Street Pump Award for "outstanding local contributions to public service and activism."

Dave taught conflict resolution in various capacities that included middle school, high school and college-level instruction. Dave founded the Marion County Neighbor-to-Neighbor Community Mediation Program and produced educational materials for Willamette University's Center for Dispute Resolution and the American Bar Association. He developed and implemented an award-winning model peer mediation program at North Salem High School, which earned him the Salem-Keizer Public School District's award for Outstanding Special Project in 1994.

Dave was a passionate environmentalist and he played a vital role in the successful efforts to preserve Opal Creek. He also worked for many years as a trail crew member with Friends of Breitenbush Cascades. Dave later created an outdoor education and adventure program for low-income children where the kids affectionately referred to him as the "Wilderness Boss."

Dave loved the wilderness and outdoor recreation and was proud to be an "adopted" Oregonian who relished in exploring the state's diverse natural beauty. He was an avid fly fisherman, skier and hiker who introduced many friends and acquaintances to the joy of the outdoors. He was a bike rider and bicycle advocate and authored the first Salem Bicycle Map. In 1973, Dave completed a 600-mile bike trip from Kansas to Colorado, crossing Trail Ridge Road at 12,000 feet elevation. Dave was a multisport athlete in high school and college, who enjoyed playing and coaching sports, especially tennis. In the 1990s, Dave served as assistant men's tennis coach at Willamette University and as the head boy's tennis coach at North Salem High School, where he was honored as Coach of the Year in 1997 for the Valley League 4A.

In 2000, Dave became a part of the Breitenbush Hot Springs, maintaining and upgrading the various infrastructure systems for this unique alternative geothermal community. It was at Breitenbush that he met the love of his life and future wife, Heidi Peterson. In 2003, Dave and Heidi left Breitenbush to care for his mother in Kansas for a year before returning to purchase their dream home in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. It was here that Dave and Heidi flourished. They enjoyed a mutual passion for entertaining and for sharing the beauty and serenity of their home and region with their diverse community of friends and family. After many years together, Dave and Heidi exchanged wedding vows on August 21, 2010, at their home on Weston Mountain before their dearest friends and family in a multi-day celebration of their love.

Dave found peace in his garden and relished in gracing his home with cut flowers and plants. He enjoyed playing jazz piano and bluegrass mandolin and was an award-winning photographer. Dave was a talented craftsman and enjoyed working with his hands doing high-end remodeling and construction. Dave loved the Oregon Country Fair and only missed two fairs in 27 years. He was a senior member of Energy Park and shared his exuberance for the fair with many people he met. His Blue Mountain paradise served as a quiet and peaceful location to work on his many archival projects documenting citizen activism and his numerous and varied successful efforts to reform state, national and international public policies. Dave was a gifted writer and public speaker who thrived on educating and empowering individuals to take control of their lives. These ethics influenced every interaction he shared with his colleagues, peers and friends. Dave had a dynamic and radiant spirit and he will be remembered for his ability to make every person that he met feel that they were important and special.

Dave is survived by his wife, Heidi Peterson of Weston Mountain; his sister, Catherine Hunt of Salina, Kan.; plus the many friends who shared in his life's adventure.

Efforts are under way to establish a foundation in Dave's honor that will support citizen-to-citizen diplomacy to find common understanding among people in contentious issues as well as other causes that were important to Dave. Arrangements are being made with an interim nonprofit organization to receive donations in Dave's honor for this purpose. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to support this effort at: David D. Hunt Fund; c/o CAPECO; 721 SE Third Street; Pendleton, OR, 97801.

A gathering and celebration of Dave's life will be held at the Pringle Community Hall at 606 Church Street S.E. in Salem at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011. A celebration will also take place on Feb. 6, 2011, in Dave's much-loved hometown, Salina, Kansas.

Arrangements are being made by Burns Mortuary in Hermiston. To sign the digital guestbook honoring Dave's memory, please visit: www.burnsmortuaryhermiston.com/obituaries/obituaries.php

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