NO. 17452 • 11 May 1927 - 23 Apr 2004
Died in Edmond, OK
Inurned in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City, OK
RICHARD LEE HUNT was born in Walters, OK, the third son of Adam Love Hunt and Mellie Lyon Hunt. He was predeceased by his brothers Adam Love Hunt, Jr., and James Birch Hunt.
In 1946, Dick graduated from Oklahoma Military Academy and entered West Point. An excellent horseman determined to earn his letter on the Army polo team, he made it onto the team that fall. His was no mean accomplishment, because a polo team consists of only three men, and few plebes were able to join the squad. His achievement permitted Dick to leave the company mess hall tables and bask in the freedom of the Corps Squad polo table. His pleasure didn’t last long, however; Army dropped polo as a varsity sport that same fall and sold all the horses, sending Dick back to the welcoming arms of the company for his meals!
At graduation, Dick chose the Corps of Engineers and, immediately after graduating, married Marilyn Rutter, his sweetheart during all four cadet years, at the Cadet Chapel. As did many of our classmates, Dick then departed for Korea, where he commanded an engineer combat platoon and later served as the assistant S 3 for an engineer combat battalion.
When Dick came back home in 1952, he and Marilyn began married life at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. They lived in an old house trailer there while Dick commanded a company. Later in their tour, Marilyn remembers, the quarters situation improved they moved into a converted World War II barracks with a coal furnace!
In 1953, Dick was assigned to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma before being sent to the University of Illinois to earn a master of science degree in structural dynamics. For the next two years, Dick was assigned to the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, MS. Later, the family moved to Germany, where Dick commanded an engineer (heavy) construction company and then served as plans officer for the 7th Engineer Brigade at Rhein Main AFB. In 1961, Dick and Marilyn returned to the States while Dick attended Command and General Staff College.
In 1962, Dick was assigned to the Tactical Department at West Point as a company tactical officer and then brigade S-1 before attending the Armed Forces Staff College in 1965. In February 1966, Dick went to Thailand to command the 809th Engineer Construction Battalion.
A tour in the Pentagon followed, but the joys of working in the Pentagon were cut short in 1968 when Dick was selected to attend the Army War College; a year later, however, he was back as chief of public affairs in the office of the Chief of Engineers. Two years later, Dick was appointed district engineer in New Orleans. In 1973, during his tenure, the lower Mississippi was hit by record setting floods. Dick’s sound leadership was instrumental in the successful control of the flooding.
In 1974, Dick was appointed lieutenant governor of the Panama Canal Zone and vice president of the Panama Canal Company. The four year tour was rewarding but frustrating, occurring as the United States was turning over the zone to the Republic of Panama. Dick retired in 1978.
After retiring, Dick and Marilyn returned to Oklahoma City where Dick worked as a vice president for an architectural and engineering company. In 1981, Dick left the corporate world to devote his time and energy to care for elderly relatives. Additionally, he joined the New Covenant Christian Church in Oklahoma City and soon became the church treasurer. Dick’s engineering skills were invaluable as the church underwent a major building program under Dick’s supervision. His dedicated work with the New Covenant Christian Church was only exceeded by his generosity he was truly the rock on which this Oklahoma City church was based.
On 23 Apr 2004, Dick died after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his beloved wife Marilyn; his daughter, Sherry Cox, and her husband Bill; his daughter, Sue Perry, and her husband Bill; his son Steve '77 and his wife Elizabeth; and seven grandchildren.
Dick’s decorations included the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak leaf dusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf dusters, and the Coast Guard Commendation Medal. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma.
LTG (Retired) John W. Morris, Jun '43, director of civil works in the Office of the Chief of Engineers during the flooding in the lower Mississippi in 1973 said:
“I knew Dick Hunt quite well and he was a fine engineer and soldier. He was the district engineer at New Orleans during the major flood that tested the control system around the lower Mississippi and New Orleans. LTG Fred Clarke, the chief of Engineers, and I visited him during the emergency. Dick had this major crisis well in hand. The projected water levels required him to make the decision to open the diversion channels upstream for the first time in decades and it was a good thing he did. All who heard this briefing and saw his decisiveness were happy he was the man in control. His fine performance in New Orleans landed him the noteworthy and prized assignment as lieutenant governor of the Panama Canal Company, where his performance lived up to all expectations. I can say without reservation that Dick Hunt was a standout among a great group of Army officers and as an engineer in particular.”
Dick Hunt’s dedication to his country and the Army throughout a lifetime of distinguished service was matched only by his devotion to his family and his church. He lived his life by the West Point motto: "Duty, Honor, Country." Duty was his watchword. We won’t see his like again.