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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Longtime Westporter Gloria Hunter Dies at 79

Gloria Hunter, a longtime Westporter who worked as a journalist, teacher, author and columnist and taught reading and college test preparation skills to countless area students, died Sunday at her Westport home. She was 79.WestportNow.com Image
Gloria Hunter: Westport resident since 1965.  Contributed photo

Hunter had struggled valiantly to maintain a normal life with family and friends and in her community as she waged her battle against cancer, according to Thomas Hunter, her husband of 56 years.

Hunter was known to many Westporters for her “As I See It” column in the weekly Westport Minuteman newspaper for the last 13 years. Her last column, “Teaser Titles,” was completed just before her death.

Born in Chicago, Hunter was the daughter of the late Eleanore Kline and David Waldron Hunter. She spent her early married life in Ann Arbor, Mich., Summit, N.J., and Cleveland, Ohio before making Westport the permanent family home in 1965.

After attending Purdue University for two years where she became a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, she was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1949.  It was there that she was first published—as a movie reviewer—for the Michigan Daily. 

For many years, Hunter taught English and reading skills—first at Fairfield Woods Junior High School and later at Weston High School.

In 1973, she received a Masters degree in education from the University of Bridgeport. 

Throughout these years, she maintained a private tutoring practice in reading and also offered pro bono classes and individual assistance at Bassick High School in Bridgeport and for A Better Chance in Westport.

In addition to her teaching career, Hunter did a stint at the original Westport News as part of the all-women “Petticoat Press Corps,” joined ABCD, the Bridgeport antipoverty organization, as a program planner, and was elected to the Westport Board of Education.

She created Reading Plus-Speed, Learning and Retention, a program for the American Management Association, designed to upgrade the capabilities of managers and corporate executives. 

Hunter’s book, “Who Invited These Tacky People Anyway?” a collection of her 97 favorite columns from the Westport Minuteman, was published last year. WestportNow.com Image
Gloria Hunter shows off her book, “Who Inivited These Tacky People Anyway?,” in December 2005 on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge where she gathered every Saturday with those against the war in Iraq. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com file photo

In addition, her articles and short fiction pieces have appeared in newspapers and magazines ranging from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to Look, Good Housekeeping and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Organizations she served with great generosity of spirit included the Mercy Learning Center where she offered GED preparation, “Learning at a Distance” where she taught nurses speed reading, Conversation Partners at Norwalk Community College, League of Women Voters of Westport, Amnesty International, and Habitat for Humanity where she and her husband participated in two building projects. 

Well after she became ill, Hunted continued to stand against the war in Iraq, joining the Saturday morning peace line on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge in Westport.

As she recently mused, she had “a great run—full of adventure and satisfaction” gained from a lifetime of enjoying her family and her many friends. 

Her special passions included her children and grandchildren, reading, worldwide travel, ballroom dancing and entertaining.  Friends and neighbors always enjoyed the Hunters’ annual Boxing Day party. 

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughter Eleanore Tracey, her son Bill, her son Thomas, her daughter-in-law Lee and two grandsons, Alex and John. She was predeceased by a brother, William D. Hunter.

A celebration of her life will be held at the Westport Woman’s Club on Saturday, March 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Whittingham Cancer Center in Norwalk or any charity that works towards peace, the environment and a better world for all.

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Posted 02/27/07 at 09:23 PM  Permalink



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With the death of Gloria Hunter Westport has lost a most precious asset. Her words, her actions and her beliefs will be greatly missed.  My sympathy to her husband Tom and their children.

Albert S. Beasley, M.D.

Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on February 27, 2007 at 11:16 PM | #
 

When I think of Gloria Hunter the word that most readily comes to mind is aplomb——the lady had gallons of it.
A few years ago we both attended a ladies’
luncheon. The tenor of the event stopped short of white gloves and tea cozies, but it was close. It was a hot summer day and the invitations had included a dip in the pool. Between our fears of damaged coifs and the terror of exposing too much of ourselves in swimsuits, when Gloria cheerily asked if anyone was going for a swim, we all reacted as though she had suggested that we join her in a nice root canal.

Undetered by the loud chorus of no’s, our lipsticked mouths forming perfect O’s and undaunted by the suspiciously murky water in the hostess’ pool, Gloria donned her suit (or had she worn it under her clothing ala Superman?) and plunged right in. As a woman for whom five minutes of wading in the most crystaline Caribbean waters requires months of dieting, weeks of shopping for the perfect designer suit and hours at the spa being buffed, fluffed, plucked and polished, my admiration for Gloria’s easy spontaneity that day left me breathless.

Aplomb, yes that’s the word. The woman had buckets of it.. She ‘ll be a grand addition to Heaven.

Posted by Gloria Gouveia on February 28, 2007 at 02:27 PM | #