In Memory

Hunter Summers

Hunter Summers

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01/13/11 12:06 AM #1    

Tom Dunlap

 One of our ROTC Commanders.  Run over by a drunk driver.

03/16/11 02:28 PM #2    

Russell Nelms




            Our classmate Hunter Summers died in October 1980.  A drunk driver ran over Hunter as he crossed Commerce Street in downtown Dallas.  The managing partner of my law firm witnessed Hunter’s death.  He saw the car run the red light and send Hunter’s body flying 150 feet through the air and onto the pavement.                                                                      


            In the years that I knew Hunter, he never contemplated his own death.  His only thoughts of the future were of a life more abundant than what he had known up to that point. 


Hunter grew up like many of the displaced kids of our generation.  His parents divorced when he was young, and Hunter went to live with his grandmother, Bessie.  Bessie eked out a living for herself and Hunter by taking in clothes for tailoring.  Most of our class didn’t know just how poor Hunter was because he didn’t act poor.  Hunter never thought that anyone owed him a living, and he didn’t expect a handout.  He was, however, always glad to stay for dinner.


            Hunter liked Risk, chess, and practical jokes.  And, of course, Hunter liked girls.  He never outlived his high-school crush on Brenda Stangebye.


            Our class voted Hunter Most Likely to Succeed.  And he did succeed.  He attended the University of New Mexico and then went on to law school at Stanford.  Upon graduation he joined the trendiest and fastest-growing law firm in Dallas, Johnson, Swanson, Hewitt & Barbee.  He was returning from court when he took the steps onto Commerce Street that would turn out to be his last.


            Hunter was 27 when he died.  He never lived to see the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, or the i-anything.  In fact, the last time I saw Hunter we were marveling at the innovation of the intermittent windshield wiper.


            Every class has its own Hunter, but he is ours.  He is the white-hot light snuffed out too soon and for no reason.  He shames us when we think of how much we have been given and how little we have done with it.


            This year we meet again after 40 years.  For most of us, time will have removed the pretense and anxiety of our high school days.  Also gone, though, will be our innocence and, for some, our optimism.  But it will not be so for Hunter.  He will be un-grayed, unwrinkled, and unbended.  He will stand in the breach between what is and what might have been. And he will remind us, “It is never too late to become the person you were always intended to be.”


03/18/11 08:23 AM #3    

Richard Elam

Well said, Russ; very touching and inspirational.  Hunter was, indeed, one of our "best and brightest".  I remember him from our days together at Military Heights Elementary.  One day I asked him how he got to be so smart.  He told me that he read from the dictionary and encyclopedia (remember those?) each day.  Hell, by that time, I think he could have been a contributing editor.  And a lot of our classmates probably didn't know that he had a keen sense of humor.  I think he could have been a knockout comedian if he had chosen.  The two of us started doing a comedy skit in elementary school about Wilkinson Sword Blades (shaving blades).  The last time we did it was at Pueblo Junior High as eighth graders in the school talent show.  Not sure how we placed, but we had a lot of fun.  I wish he was still with us and that we could perform that same skit at the upcoming reunion.  Peace to you my Brother. 

04/26/11 12:43 AM #4    

Barbara Boehms

Russell - thank you for writing.  I learned a bit I didn't know.  I can't match your eloquence but I'll share a few of my memories.  Hunter and I attended UNM and he roomed with my boyfriend for a while.  As I recall, Hunter saved enough money working at Primm's to pay for all of his undergraduate education and to buy a used car.  He did not have to borrow money for school until he attended Stanford.  He was the only person I knew who managed his time so well that he had time to read - for pleasure - DURING the semester.  How I envied that. 

Sometime in 1979 I attended a work conference in Austin.  I was a new mother and did not want to leave my daughter, but a friend urged me to go.  Reluctantly, I did.  On the day I was leaving I thought of Hunter and wondered if he could meet me in Dallas during a layover.  It was so last minute I figured the odds were very slim.  How I figured out how to call him in Dallas, I don't know.  I called his office.  He was not in but I left a message, just in case, giving my flight information.  When I got off the plane in Dallas, there he was.  He told me he was not scheduled to be in that day, but he just happened to stop in and check his messages.  I was thrilled to see my old, dear friend.  I've been grateful ever since for that last visit. 

Looking back, I think how lucky I was that he attended UNM.  Not many from our class did and without those years, we might have lost touch.  I miss him to this day. 

08/25/11 12:12 PM #5    

Ann Mauney (Joy)

    Hunter was so sweet and very bright guy ! I truly liked him and he took time to speak with me , what a loss . I know he is in a wonderful place now and may he never be forgotten !  

                                       Ann Mauney-Joy 

09/04/11 09:59 AM #6    

Tom Dunlap

 Ross Robertson, another scholarly type (GHS '72), directed me here to read Russell's notation.  Hunter knew I was selling blank report cards outta Col. Harper's desk and never turned me in.  Hunter the benevolent!

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