Just six more issues to go, and the pendulum keeps swinging. For every—how shall I say—unsavory person I’ve met (such as described last week) there have been 10 amazing individuals to balance the scale.
One of them is Doug Hunter.
We have a little joke in our office about ol’ Doug. Just put his column head—you know— ‘The Capac Journal’ one—on anything and people will clamor all over the pages to read it. We write our backsides off for at least eight hours a day, often six days a week and hear nary a peep from readers. Doug weighs in with a story now and then and the editorial pages are flooded with letters praising his work. The ‘Capac’s Unsolved Mystery’ readers know it’s a fact, and so do we. And we laugh instead of scoff.
So, would it be fair to put Doug Hunter’s column head here right now, when it’s me, Catherine Minolli, who’s filling space?
I’ll let you be the judge, as long as you keep reading.
I was inspired by Doug and wrote about it in July of 2007, when Capac was prepping to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Many readers were already acquainted with him, but I just had to share my opinion that Doug Hunter was—and still is—a stand-up guy. There aren’t many people like him on the planet. There’s way more than meets the eye when it comes to Doug, and all of it points in the same direction: He’s a stand-up guy. He’s a man of honor who honors his word.
Our professional relat-ionship began right before 2007 dawned, when he called me up somewhat out of the blue. I knew nothing of his history, except that he was active in politics. A Democrat always stands out in this neck of the woods.
Doug told me about The Capac Journal which was founded by his great-grandfather Noble Hunter in 1887. The Capac Journal eventually became part of the Tri-City Times, and as late as the 1980s we still printed a ‘Capac Journal’ page in every edition.
Anyhow, Doug tells me about a promise he made to his father—Noble’s grandson Allen—as he lay dying.
“Tell the story,” Allen Noble Hunter whispered to his son. “Keep the history alive.”
Doug says his dad was thinking a lot about Capac’s 150th anniversary in his final days, and that’s what spurred him to urge Doug to document the Hunter family legacy, whose roots stretch back four generations to the pioneer days when Capac was just a swamp in the wilderness.
At the time, Doug tells me what he’s thinking about doing—and tells me he must do it because he promised his dad—and I think it sounds great.
So with the help of his Aunt Elisabeth and Uncle Don Jamison, Doug begins pouring through ancient issues of The Capac Journal, through reams of notes and photos and through the yellowed pages of his great-grandfather’s personal diary.
Through Doug’s jour- ney it becomes clear to me that he’s fulfilling his destiny. Doug is not only a gifted writer, he’s a thoughtful, caring and hugely considerate man—traits that are a little surprising if you simply consider his robust stature and gravelly voice.
Doug was so concerned about getting the facts and details right—about not missing anyone’s name, making anyone feel bad, making it seem like it was all about him. Doug was truly fulfilling a promise, a vow with all the reverence and commitment of a priest. He was nervous about how his writing would be perceived—unsure if it was any good, and not exactly convinced when I told him to take my word for it. And guess what? I was right. In the six months that Doug wrote historic stories, he got more letters and kudos than I’d gotten in a year. He deserved every bit of it, too. And the feedback truly made his day. Ours, too.
Doug’s not so serious outside the scope of his writing, though, believe me. Every time he walks into the office there’s some sort of joking around and the sound of his deep laughter that comes from his gut and lights up his face and everyone else’s, too.
He gets a kick out of the simplest things and reminds everyone around him that life is funny—even when it seems like it’s not.
Along with being a writer, Doug’s a farmer, a retired truck driver, political activist, father, grandfather, community sounding board, history buff, and go-to guy when people want to put some-thing down on paper. In fact, some Capac residents went to him to do just that—for me. Way back when all the controversy was brewing over the controversial and short-lived village manager and police chief and recall and whatnot, Doug told me some people came to him and asked him to write a letter to “ream you a new …” but he declined to do so. Although he didn’t know me personally back then, Doug knew about the newspaper business and said I was just doing my job—and that editors are entitled to their opinion, however unpopular it may be. They never held it against him, either, because that’s how Doug is—a stand up guy.
Doug stood up to the court system, too—all the way to the Supreme Court and guess what? Doug Hunter set a precedent in labor law. Newsweek magazine did a write up about him for doing so. Doug is a believer in justice, a man whose sense of what’s fair is honed sharp and he’s not afraid to point it out by standing up for it. He’s the guy people go to to right a wrong, to put wheels in motion for action, to make a difference through the power of the written word.
I suspect Doug can’t help that. It’s genetic. Part of his DNA, something he couldn’t change or deny if he wanted to.
Yes, Doug’s a bit of a Renaissance man. His friendship, humor, wisdom, and dare I say influence, have helped me more than once. A big man with a bigger heart, Doug helped me in my darkest hour, no questions asked, never again discussed.
Yes, when it comes to Doug Hunter there is definitely more than meets the eye. I’m so grateful I got to know the man and see this for myself.
Email Doug at email@example.com.
Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.