By TONY McGOWAN
The Outer Banks lost a friend and icon this past weekend. John Hunter passed away Saturday at his home on Raymond Ave. in Kill Devil Hills. John has been on the Outer Banks since the 1970s, and was a real estate appraiser, sailor, aspiring writer and actor, a lover of music, food and good friends. He will be missed.
John and I became friends in the late 1970s, and our common interest at the time was sailing. I would watch from the deck of the Collington Harbor house I was renting as he and his pals would come and go on sailboats. He was working at Rollinson and Wood with Todd Young, Bobby and Sherry Rollinson, and at A Restaurant By George. Our paths crossed, and a friendship ensued.
There was a passion for sailing among many locals during that time and John, along with Pete Hunter, Bob Buchannan, Charles Hardy, Louie Batchelor, several others and myself, formed the Roanoke Island Yacht Club and laid the foundation for the Albemarle Challenge Cup and the club races between Elizabeth City and Edenton Yacht Clubs. Those were simpler times and our boats were anything but serious race boats. The racing was fun and friendly, and a hell of a good time.
John struck out on his on in the real estate appraisal business and built a very successful business that ran strong from Currituck to Ocracoke for years. Many of the appraisal businesses around today found roots at Hunter Appraisals.
My business adventures took me out of Kill Devil Hills and down to Hatteras and Ocracoke, but I spent many a night on John’s couch on Raymond Ave. He was a great conservationist with plenty of opinions on local, state and national government, and toyed with the idea of running for various local offices over the years. He was particularly interested in Kill Devil Hills town politics.
John had a passion for writing and expressing himself with a pen. He took classes, workshops and clinics, and worked to hone his craft, and in the end was an accomplished and published writer.
One of our sailing adventures found us at anchor in Little Harbor, Abaco, during perhaps the peak of his writing. He would go into his cabin and come out after hours and read me what he had done. Many of his best pieces were about growing up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, his Dad, the times with his brothers, sisters and family, and the character’s that filled his life during those days. They were marvelous stories and you could see he was loving the telling and sharing of them.
We both ended up on Ocracoke in the mid to late 2000s, still hanging around on sailboats and living our lives the best we could.
Our paths veered during this time, and our time together became less and less. He spent more time on the upper beaches and my interest grew more toward the mountains of N.C.
I was shocked and dismayed last week to learn of his condition, and that he was slipping away, and now deeply sadden to learn of his passing.
John Hunter was a great friend and his effect on my life and our time together will stay with me for the rest of my life.