One of the many American Field Service exchange students in Frances Hunter's life described her in an essay as, "an active and lovely woman who knew what it was to be rich and a little later become poor. Without being embarrassed, but with sadness showing in her face, we started to talk about the Great Depression".|
Indeed, the Depression followed her around in her dreams, although she more than recovered to lead an active, generous and very meaningful life. She was born in Seattle, Washington, and attended Roosevelt High School. Her fondest memories of her childhood center on the fine symphony orchestra in that school. In her own words, she "always remembered Ernie Worth pausing to explain in detail the movements of a symphony; we learned to identify the principal instruments, and to elaborate on the action expressed by the moods of each movement." Week after week, this was her greatest joy, and music remained a source of comfort throughout her life. Upon her graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to Whitman College and part of the heartbreak of the depression for her was that it was not enough to allow her to attend.
In 1938, she moved to Riverside, CA, for an extended visit and there she met Edwin Hunter. They were married in July 1939 and settled in Riverside. From then on, her life was devoted to Ed and their three children, and in her spare time, she was active in every community in which she lived.
In Riverside, she was active in the Junior League for 18 years and served as both President and Program Vice President. She treasured the education in fund-raising and service that she received from this experience. She also served as chair of the women's division of the Community Chest, a precursor to the United Way. She helped bring the American Field Service foreign exchange program to Riverside and she was active in the Riverside Art Center. She served on the PTA for so long and in so many different schools and capacities that she was relieved when all of her children graduated from high school.
Frances and Ed moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 1972, long after she was relieved of active PTA duty. Ed was busy building Hunter Industries. Frances became active in the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center, and because she was thrilled that young families with children were moving into RSF, she saw the need for a facility that met younger families' needs. As she said, "It was about 25 years ago that I heard it said, "As you get older you need to make younger friends. I highly recommend it!" She had many, many younger friends, and seemed younger than many of them herself. In addition, she was involved in the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center and Center Artes at California State University San Marcos.
But Frances' life passion was music. Her concerns in the last decades of her life were for the children of our society, and she wanted all children to be exposed to and to love music. She felt strongly that the children of today would grow up to be better people tomorrow with music education. She was a board member of Orchestra Nova and she supported the start-up of the Music Memory Program, now under the auspices of San Diego Winds. In her very last days, her greatest source of comfort was listening to Bach.
Frances' husband, Edwin, passed away in 1997 and granddaughter, Karen Hunter, in 2008. She is survived by her three children, Paul Hunter and his wife, Linda, Richard Hunter and his wife, Jan, and Ann Hunter-Welborn and her husband, David; eight grandchildren, Monica Dunwell, Daniel Hunter, Jill Hensley, Greg Hunter, Scott Hunter, Jessica Welborn, Rachael Barkley and Emily Guevara; and she was most proud to be the great-grandmother of 15 great-grandchildren and two on the way.
Services will be held at the Village Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe on March 1, 2014, at 11 a.m.
Donations can made in her name to the Music Memory Program, San Diego Winds, 5694 Mission Center Rd., #289, San Diego, CA 92108-4312.
Published in the Rancho Santa Fe Review on Dec. 12, 2013