He was a family man with a capital “F.” He believed very strongly in taking care of his own — and any others who needed him.
John H. “Buster” Hunter of Charlotte died December 29, 2011 at Harris Hospice at Presbyterian Hospital of cancer. He was 63 and retired from Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation after 14 years. He had previously worked 21 years at Byrum Seed Co., which closed in the late 1990s.
He met his bride Betty 44 years ago at the old Atmosphere Club when she was 18. “We were young and enjoyed talking,” she said.
Together they had son Anthony and daughters Keisha and Sharon. While he drove a truck for Byrum’s from Maryland to Alabama, Betty stayed home with the children. He later was Byrum’s warehouse supervisor.
He was a working man
“He took care of us,” Betty said. “I stayed home and raised the children for four or five years. He was a good father, a good husband who worked all the time. I didn’t worry about him lying around the house — he was a working man. Everybody enjoyed working with him.”
John, or “Buster,” as he had been known since childhood, also helped raise his nieces, Tekeria and Tyasisha Rann. “He called them his own,” Betty said.
“John was a social fellow,” his wife said. “He enjoyed people. I did the cooking and he didn’t mind people coming to eat. He liked me to cook, he’d invite people and we’d sit, talk and have fun.”
After Byrum closed, John worked for the Parks and Recreation Department, where he tended the grounds and kept up the parks. “He trimmed, mulched, and made sure the park was clean for events,” Betty said. “Sometimes he worked events on weekends, like the dog shows or soccer tournaments. They mostly wanted him to work because they knew he’d do a good job.”
He also did a good job in raising his children. Daughter Keisha Brown said, “He provided for everybody — he was our family provider.” He gave her the money to open her first salon, Style in the City. He also bought her first car, a red Toyota Corolla.
“He loved people and liked to work,” Keisha said. He also loved his red truck and the Washington Redskins. “He never complained about being sick, he just dealt with it.” Keisha cared for him for six months of his illness.
John also helped with daughter Sharon Ivey’s sons. “He talked to my boys and tried to spend time with them,” she said. “He was a hard working man and he was all about family.” He also loved golf and playing the card game “Bid Wiz,” for which he’d won trophies.
Son Anthony shared his father with his friends who didn’t have one. “They considered him their father. He let me live, let me learn how to be a man. He didn’t make me be what he wanted me to be. He was a great friend, great father and a great son when my grandparents were living.
“He taught me to drive a tractor-trailer when I was 10 or 11. I joined the military to become a truck driver,” his son said.
“We used to fish at a lake on Wilkinson Boulevard and we talked about that when he was sick.”
As for discipline, “He had a deep voice like thunder and only had to say something once,” Anthony said.
And most often, that once was quite enough.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.