Donnell W. Hunter, 82, of LaBelle, passed away Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, from complications of heart surgery at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
He was born June 5, 1930, in Rigby to William Wallace Hunter and Bertha O'Donnell Hunter. He was raised and attended schools in Rigby, graduating from Rigby High School. He continued his education at Ricks College, Utah State University, the University of Montana and earned a master's degree in English and literature and fine arts.
On Oct. 15, 1952, he married Nita Deon Kearsley in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple. He taught at Madison High School, Ricks College, Church College of Hawaii and BYU.
Donnell was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a young man, he served a mission to Mexico. Later in life, he served as a mission president in Veracruz, Mexico, for three years, as area welfare agent for two years in Central America, and as temple president in Santiago, Chile, for three years. He was also a sealer in the temple for approximately 33 years.
He enjoyed writing poetry and was published in 47 states; he also authored the hymn "The Lord Gave Me a Temple," found in the LDS Children's Primary Song Book. His many hobbies included woodworking of fine furniture, even making his own coffin, painting with watercolors and oils, sculpture, operating his own printing press and printing his own chapbooks and chapbooks of William Stafford and others.
He was a bird expert, he made homemade bread since 1977, and he loved to play chess and Scrabble. He loved classical music and played saxophone in the band and dance orchestra at Ricks College and sang in Ricks College and ward choirs.
He is survived by his wife, Nita K. Hunter of LaBelle; daughters, Donita (Gerald) Christensen of Pocatello and Sally (Kirk) Geisler of LaBelle; sons, Michael (Lisa) Hunter of LaBelle, Kerry (Denece) Hunter of Caldwell, Edward Hunter of LaBelle, Alan (Lillie) Hunter of Roosevelt, Utah, Kim (Gretchen) Hunter of Ogden, Utah, and Nathan (Stacey) Hunter of Parker, Colo.; sister, Iris Ricks of Fairview, Utah; brothers, Ralph (Shirlee) Hunter of Irwin and Emerson Hunter of Idaho Falls; 31 grandchildren; and 36 great-grandchildren with four more coming soon.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Bertha Hunter; one granddaughter and one great-grandson.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the LaBelle 1st Ward LDS Chapel, 4223 E. 528 North in Rigby. The family will receive friends from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday prior to services, both at the church. Burial will be in Annis-Little Butte Cemetery under the direction of Eckersell Memorial Chapel in Rigby.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.eckersellfuneralhome.com.