Clifford Joel Hunt, 90, who died on Aug. 9, 2023, at his Oak Park home from cancer, lived an active life right up to the end. He said his last years in Oak Park were his best.
Born on Aug. 16, 1932, in DeKalb, he graduated in 1949 from DeKalb Twp. High School and was a corporal in a paratrooper unit at Fort Benning during the Korean War. On Sept. 3, 1955, he married Sarah Jane Atkins. They would have been married 68 years this month.
In DeKalb, he became a licensed plumber and steamfitter and worked on constructing many buildings at Northern Illinois University, including the library, science building, field house and four dormitories. He served one term as DeKalb city councilman. Later he worked in commercial real estate and income-tax preparation.
A plumber by trade, he was most proud of his mastery working with his hands. This extended to woodworking, basket weaving, and home repairs. He took great delight in teaching these skills to others and helping them with their projects.
At Grace Episcopal Church, where he was treasurer and member of the choir, he developed a basement workshop where he did woodworking and basket weaving.
The church honored him and his wife Sarah for their work with a recent reception and designated his workspace “Cliff’s Workshop,” to be used as a community workshop.
In the choir, he sang bass and was music librarian, cataloging 80 years of music the church owned. He did numerous buildings & grounds projects, including rewiring all the massive church lights, refinishing 66 cathedral chairs, fixing the pews, gardening, and building 35 Adirondack chairs sold to benefit the church.
At age 80, he wrote Too Tough for Knickers: Growing Up Poor in the 1930s, an account of his life on a small farm near DeKalb when illness or a car breakdown was a family crisis and how people lived their lives out as best they could. The book started out as a family history project and grew to become social commentary.
He loved the Oak Park Public Library and read 2-3 books a week. He was also a member of Heritage Chorale, an Oak Park choral group.
He became interested in genealogy and traced all his family lines back to America’s earliest days. One of his ancestors was Thomas Hunt, whose farm became Hunts Point, Bronx, New York City. He was a member of the Fort Dearborn-Chicago Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.
In addition to his wife Sarah, survivors include his brother and sister, Horace Hunt and Susan Gordon; his children, Joel (Ann), Don (Janna) Hunt, Marian “Marty” (Michael) Locke, and John; his grandchildren, Ryan Hunt, Katherine (Reece) Bend, Elizabeth Locke, and Allison Locke (Francis Cruz); and two great-grandchildren Rowan and Raelyn Bend.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 16 at Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake St., Oak Park with burial of ashes in the church memorial garden. The service will be on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/6360891531.
Memorials may be made to the Grace Episcopal Church Organ Restoration Fund.