Richard George Hunt of Auburn, MA passed away at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester on May 22, 2020. Known for his kind heart, his adventurous spirit, and his easygoing demeanor, he was a devoted husband and father, professor, athlete, woodworker, foodie, world traveler, and jazz enthusiast.
Born on June 2, 1939 in Johnstown, PA to the late Richard and Margaret (Diefenbach) Hunt, Richard attended the local public schools and graduated from Ferndale Area Junior/Senior High School in 1957. While there, he distinguished himself playing trumpet, basketball, and golf.
He went on to pursue his academic passion for geography at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Southern Connecticut State University, and Boston University.
During his studies, he met the love of his life, Margaret (Peg) Porter of Greensburg, PA, and they married in 1964. Within a few years, they had two beautiful daughters, Virginia (Ginny) and Kathleen (Kay).
In 1969, the family moved to Auburn, MA and Richard was appointed Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning at Worcester State College, where he would spend the next four decades helping thousands of students gain a greater understanding of the world around them until his retirement.
In addition, he served on the Auburn Planning Board and Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission for many years, and he attended Hadwen Park Congregational Church in Worcester.
Richard had a well-earned reputation as an athlete who loved friendly competition — swimming, cycling, kayaking, golfing, sailing, skiing, and, most notably, running. He was an enthusiastic member of the Central Mass Striders and competed in countless triathlons and races, including the 100th Boston Marathon for which he “Boston Qualified” at the age of 56. He also coached Auburn youth soccer.
As a father, he encouraged his children to pursue their passions and express themselves freely, and he rarely lost his temper. His generosity extended far and wide, and included family, friends, and the many students from various corners of the world, whom he would spontaneously invite to his home for dinner, rarely, if ever, checking with his wife beforehand. And Richard’s laid-back approach to life did occasionally inspire exasperation among those closest to him. He was infamous in his household for appropriating others’ leftovers, including birthday cakes, and generally considered the refrigerator his exclusive grazing zone.
A skilled woodworker, he created stunning pieces of furniture for loved ones, and developed a passion for woodturning. He could often be found selling his handiwork at local craft fairs. If you are fortunate enough to own a Richard Hunt original, it just doubled in value.
He traveled all over the world — particularly after his retirement — but developed a special affinity for Civil War battlefields and Ocracoke Island, NC. He acquired a substantial collection of framed art in the course of his journeys.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Peg, as well as his daughter Kay and her partner Mike Ford (Mr. Mike) of Auburn, MA; his daughter Ginny, son-in-law John Swanson, and grandson Graham Swanson, of Wakefield, MA; as well as two cats, Roberta the Bruce (Bertie) and William Wallace (Willie).
Richard’s gracious, amiable, and generous presence will be dearly missed by those who knew and loved him.
A celebration of his life is tentatively planned for the Summer of 2021. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Opacum Land Trust at P.O. Box 233, Sturbridge, MA 01566, or through the Network for Good link on their website: www.opacumlt.org. To leave a note of condolence for his family, please visit www.brittonfuneralhomes.com.