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Lamar Hunt

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HUNT, LAMAR, Lamar Hunt, 74, passed away on December 13, 2006, in Dallas, Texas after a lengthy illness. Mr. Hunt was born August 2, 1932 in El Dorado, Arkansas to H.L. Hunt and Lyda Bunker Hunt. He spent his childhood in both Tyler and Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1956 with a degree in Geology. He later entered the family oil business along with his brothers, Bunker and Herbert, before founding the American Football League (AFL) in 1960, thus beginning his longtime association with professional football. Mr. Hunt was a devoted Christian, a loving husband, father and grandfather, who enjoyed a vibrant life filled with many dear friends. He was a man of extraordinary vision, faith and integrity, whose deep sense of humility was one of his most unwavering and most endearing traits. Mr. Hunt served as the guiding figure behind the formation of both the AFL and the Dallas Texans franchise, which would later become the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first AFL figure to be enshrined in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1972, a remarkable feat considering he became involved in the game just 13 years earlier. As the founder of the AFL, he helped pave the way for much of the modern growth of pro football. Possibly the greatest tribute to Mr. Hunt's contributions to the sport was the naming by the National Football League of the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which is presented annually to the champion of the American Football Conference. Mr. Hunt is also credited with putting the name "Super Bowl" on the NFL's championship game - the name coming from his children's toy, a "Super Ball." In 1962, his Texans won the AFL Championship with a victory over the Houston Oilers. After three years in Dallas, Mr. Hunt moved his team to Kansas City in 1963, where the organization was renamed the Chiefs. His team repeated as AFL Champions in both 1966 and 1969. The Chiefs played in the first Super Bowl against the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. Three years later, the Chiefs claimed Kansas City's first major sports championship by defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. In the late 1960s, Mr. Hunt was closely involved in the original development plans for Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, a facility recognized as one of America's foremost sporting venues. Under Mr. Hunt's stewardship, the Chiefs established an intensely-loyal fan following. While the Chiefs always remained Mr. Hunt's most prized sporting entity, his passion for athletics encompassed more than just the game of football. Appropriately nicknamed "Games" during his childhood, Mr. Hunt's love of sports was his true lifeblood, an enthusiasm which led to his involvement in six different professional sports leagues and seven sports franchises. In addition to his formative role in the creation of the AFL, Mr. Hunt was involved in the development of both the North American Soccer League (NASL) and tennis promotion company, World Championship Tennis (WCT). Mr. Hunt's involvement in those ventures resulted years later in his induction into the respective Halls of Fame of both United States Soccer in 1982 and International Tennis in 1993. He was also inducted into the state Sports Halls of Fame of both Missouri (1995) and Texas (1984). In total, Mr. Hunt was selected to eight Halls of Fame, including the Texas Business Hall of Fame (1997) and the Kansas City Business Hall of Fame (2004). In 1981, Mr. Hunt was inducted into the NFL Alumni Association's prestigious Order of the Leather Helmet, and in February of 1993, he received the Francis J. "Reds" Bagnell Award from the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia for continuing positive contributions to the game of football. Truly a sportsman for all seasons, Soccer America Magazine named Mr. Hunt one of its "25 Most Influential People" in 1999 after the 91-year-old U.S. Open Cup was renamed the "Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup." That same year he also received the U.S. Soccer Federation Hall of Fame Medal of Honor, becoming only the second individual to earn that prestigious distinction. In 2005, the U.S. Soccer Foundation honored Mr. Hunt with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Hunt was instrumental in founding Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1995. The Hunt Family served as the Investor/Operators of the Kansas City Wizards franchise of MLS from 1995-2006 and reveled as the Wizards claimed the 2000 MLS Cup. The family still oversees the operations of two MLS franchises, FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew. Mr. Hunt's vision led to the development of soccer-specific stadiums in the United States. Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, this country's first soccer-specific stadium, opened in 1999, and in 2005, Mr. Hunt opened the revolutionary Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. Home to FC Dallas, Pizza Hut Park combines youth and professional soccer and has become the model for soccer-specific stadiums throughout MLS. Mr. Hunt was also one of the founding investors in the six-time World Champion Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the family maintains an ownership interest in the team. In total, Mr. Hunt was the owner of 13 distinctive championship rings from five different professional sports associations (AFL/NFL, MLS, NBA, NASL and the U.S. Soccer "Open Cup"). His football championship litany included a Super Bowl IV ring from the 1969 Chiefs, as well as AFL title rings from the 1962 Texans and 1966 Chiefs. A highly-successful businessman outside of sports, Mr. Hunt oversaw a diverse range of business interests across the country. One of his most notable innovations was SubTropolis, the world's largest underground business complex, located in Kansas City. Mr. Hunt served on the Board of Trustees for the St. Mark's School of Dallas, and was appointed a Life Trustee in 1999. All of Mr. Hunt's sons attended St. Mark's, and he and wife Norma remained enthusiastic fans of the school for more than 40 years. In 2005, as a gift from sons Clark and Daniel, the school's new soccer stadium became the Norma and Lamar Hunt Family Stadium in recognition of the family's lasting mark on the institution. While attending Southern Methodist University, Mr. Hunt was a three-year reserve end on the Varsity Football Team. He was an avid supporter of his alma mater and served on the school's board of trustees. Mr. Hunt was also a proud graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, Penn., where he was captain of an undefeated football team, voted "Most Well-Liked", "Most Likely to Succeed" and Student Body President. Along with his family, Mr. Hunt was involved in numerous philanthropic and civic efforts in Dallas, across the state of Texas and in the Kansas City community. He was also a long-time member of Park Cities Presbyterian Church. Mr. Hunt is survived by wife Norma Knobel and children Lamar, Jr. and wife Rita of Leawood, Kan., Sharron Munson and husband David of Dallas, Clark Knobel and wife Tavia of Dallas, Daniel Linn Hunt of Dallas and 14 grandchildren. Also surviving are siblings Margaret Hunt Hill, Caroline Rose Hunt, Nelson Bunker Hunt and wife Caroline, William Hebert Hunt and wife Nancy, and half-siblings Ray Lee Hunt and wife Nancy Ann, June Hunt, Helen Lakelley Hunt and husband Harville Hendrix, and Swanee Grace Hunt and husband Charles Ansbacher. Mr. Hunt was preceded in death by his parents and brother Haroldson L. Hunt, Jr. A public memorial service will be held in Dallas on Saturday, December 16, at 1 p.m., at Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus with a reception immediately following at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. A memorial celebration of Mr. Hunt's life will also be conducted in Kansas City on Tuesday, December 19. Memorial donations in lieu of flowers can be sent in Mr. Hunt's name to the Heart of a Champion Foundation (P.O. Box 740126, Dallas, Texas, 75374) and the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood, Dal
Published in Dallas Morning News on Dec. 15, 2006
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