Photographer Gary Hunter dies

Gary Hunter, a former longtime staff photographer for the Morning Advocate, died Friday.

He was 88.

Hunter joined the Morning Advocate sometime in the early 1970s, his daughter Beverly Koepp said. He retired from the Morning Advocate in 1990.

Before that, Hunter worked as a photographer at the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla. He had also worked in the photo departments of General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y.; and NASA in Picayune, Miss., before joining the Morning Advocate.

In between stops in Schenectady and Picayune, Hunter opened his own commercial photo studio at home, Koepp said.

Koepp said she did not know why her father enjoyed photography so much — just that he enjoyed it as long as she could remember.

“He was smitten with it from the time he was young,” Koepp said. “He never did anything else.”

John Ballance, photo department manager at The Advocate, recalled a tale Hunter always told about an “investment” that a group of people brought to his attention when he was attending Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.

The investment, Ballance said, was in Polaroid Corp.

“He did not buy it,” Ballance said, “but he always told that story.”

Ballance said Hunter would always dress up as Santa Claus around Christmas time.

“Gary was a very jovial guy,” Ballance said.

Bill Feig, a photographer with The Advocate who joined the paper in 1976, said Hunter was a pleasant person to be around.

“He was quick with a laugh, and he was quick with a joke,” Feig said.

Hunter knew the photography craft well, especially studio work, Feig said.

“I really mourn his passing, because he was fine fellow,” he said.

Feig also said Hunter was a fan of bowties while working in the Morning Advocate’s darkrooms.

“A regular tie would drag through the chemicals if you weren’t careful,” Feig said.

Koepp said her father moved to Daphne, Ala., several years after he retired from the Morning Advocate to live with her after her mother died.

The reason, she said, was simple.

“He didn’t know how to cook,” Koepp joked.

Hunter’s obituary says he was a native of Jacksonville, Fla., and was residing in Daphne, Ala., before his death. He also was a U.S. Navy veteran.

Hunter was a lifelong member of the Barber Shop Harmony Society, which Koepp said “was his social life.”

Koepp said her father always enjoyed a good joke.

“What a warm, gentle soul he was,” Koepp said.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Chapel of Wolfe-Bayview Funeral Home in Daphne, Ala.