Tom Hunter, 91, died February 9, 2020. He was born November 19, 1928, to Ella Catherine Hessey Hunter and Thomas William Hunter, Sr. Tom made the Shackle Island community, near Hendersonville, Tennessee, his home.
A devoted Cumberland Presbyterian, he was a faithful elder and very active member of Beech Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Nashville Presbytery) and the Knox Sunday school class. Beech Church, often referred to as “Old Beech,” predates the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination. Tom served as a trustee of Bethel College (now Bethel University) in McKenzie, Tennessee, and was a member of the Bethel College Business Council.
Tom graduated from Gallatin High School. He served in the United States Army during World War II and the Korean Conflict, becoming a sergeant in the Military Police. He was honorably discharged in 1952.
Tom was received as a candidate for the ministry by Lebanon Presbytery on April 21, 1953, licensed April 14, 1954, and ordained October 17, 1954. At the time, he was serving Dickson Cumberland Presbyterian Church then in Clarksville Presbytery. In 1956, Tom was listed as pastor of Providence CPC in Hartsville, Tennessee.
Tom graduated from George Peabody College of Teachers, Nashville, Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in 1955. He then earned a master’s degree in Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1957. Finally, He earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from YMCA Night Law School in Nashville in June, 1972.
After earning his master’s degree, Tom disappeared from ministry in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. There is no record yet discovered of his having resigned or demitted his clergy credentials but he cannot be confirmed to have served a church after preaching at Providence and Shiloh (Clarksville Presbytery) in 1956. He does not appear on the denominational roll after 1958.
Tom worked in various positions in both state and private public health administration and also as the director of fund raising efforts to bring the USS Alabama to Mobile. In 1977, he established himself as an independent health care/hospital consultant while also dabbling in real estate. He never really retired and was a gentleman farmer to the end.
Tom’s first wife, June Ferguson Hunter, died April 5, 1991. She was 59 years old. Beech Church maintains a June Hunter Scholarship Fund. Betty Lou Hunter, Tom’s second wife, resides in Hendersonville.