Paul William Hunter of rural Parsons died Saturday, June 5, 2010, at Elmhaven East nursing home in Parsons.
He was born Aug. 14, 1921, to William W. and Hope E. (Campbell) Hunter of rural Labette City. He graduated from Labette County Community High School in Altamont in 1938 and from Parsons Junior College in 1940.
Hunter served three and a half years in the Army Air Corps in World War II, attaining the rank of captain. He crossed the “Hump” — the Himalaya mountains — 19 times and flew 35 bombing missions against Japan as a flight engineer in the 58th Bomb Wing, which took the first B-29 airplanes into combat. His overseas service was in India, China and the Marianas Islands. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation and five battle stars. He also was awarded Flight Engineer’s Wings by the Republic of China Air Force. He was active in the 40th Bomb Group Association, serving as its president from 2004 until 2008. He and his wife, Helen, had attended all but three of its annual reunions. He wrote a book, “The War Years,” about his WWII experiences. Copies of the book are available at several local libraries.
He was married to Helen R. Thomas at the Altamont Presbyterian Church Nov. 6, 1949, by the Rev. E.W. Armstrong. After their marriage, they moved to a farm in the Center Bethel community southeast of Parsons. It became Laneview Farm and has been their home since. She survives of the home.
The Hunters were breeders of registered Jersey cattle until 1972, when the herd was dispersed. For a time, they had the highest-producing Jersey herd in the state.
Hunter was active in farm organizations and had served on the Labette County Extension Council, the Labette County Farm Bureau Board and the Federal Land Bank Board and served 45 years on the Labette County Soil Conservation District Board. He served many years as a community leader and project leader of the Thrifty Thrivers 4-H Club.
He helped organize See-Kan Resource, Conservation and Development, served as its first president and served on its board from 1969 until 2005. He was one of the organizers of Southwestern States RC&D and served 10 years as its president. He also was an organizing director of the National Association of RC&D Councils and served five years as its secretary.
He had served on numerous committees at regional, state and national levels in both conservation and RC&D organizations, and several times had testified before congressional committees on their behalf.
He helped organize Rural Water District No. 5 and served on its board eight years. He was an organizer of Labette-Hackberry Watershed and served on its board from 1974 until 2004.
Hunter had been honored for his conservation and community service work by the Soil Conservation Service, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, the National Association of RC&D Councils, the Soil Conservation Society of America, the Kansas Wildlife Federation and the Kansas Bankers Association. He and Helen received the Kansas Master Farmer-Master Farm Homemaker Award in 1983.
He was a lifelong member of Center Bethel Union Church, had taught in its Sunday school and served in many of its offices. He was a seven gallon blood donor.
He enjoyed traveling. Travels included all 50 states, Canada and Mexico, in addition to traveling around the world while serving in the Air Corps.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother; a sister, Phoebe Carol (Hunter) Johnson; and a brother, Harlan Lewis Hunter.
Survivors include a sister, Mildred Floy (Hunter) Harshaw of Grants Pass, Ore.; the couple’s five children, Kay (Hunter) McNeil and her husband, Jack, of Taylor, Texas, Bill Hunter of Pratt, Bob Hunter and his wife, Alynn Jackson, of Overland Park, Carol Hunter and her husband, Tom Perry, of Des Moines, Iowa, and Barry Hunter and his wife, Jayne, of Fort Smith, Ark. They also have eight grandchildren, Jack Hunter and his wife, Jessica, of Seattle, Marlene Heinitz of rural Ottawa, Emily McKinnell and her husband, Alisdair, of Tenham, Kent, United Kingdom, Gene McNeil and his wife, Brooke, of Amarillo, Texas, Quin Jackson of Lawrence, and Erin Hunter, Landon Hunter and Jenna Hunter, all of Fort Smith, Ark. The Hunters also have six great-grandchildren, Joe Heinitz, Brittany Heinitz and Taylor Heinitz, all of rural Lane, Jaysie and Breely McNeil of Amarillo, and Samuel Hunter of Seattle.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 9, 2010, at the Center Bethel Union Church with the Rev. Jack Blackwell officiating. Burial will be in the Springhill Cemetery with military honors given by the Fort Riley Funeral Detail. The family will receive friends from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. today at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Center Bethel Union Church Building Fund and may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 942, Parsons, KS 67357.
Online condolences may be left at www.wallfuneralservices.com. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Carson-Wall Funeral Home of Parsons.