Jan 14th 1950 - Apr 19th 2012
Gregory Roy Hunt was a simple man. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California on January 14, 1950, so he was a product of the 60s, a natural born Hippie. He felt most like himself when he let his hair grow, wherever it would grow. Greg & L.J. always felt they were meant for each other, because, as a child, L.J. had a crush on Grizzly Adams and Gregory was in love with the redhead on the Sunmade Raisens box. He could tell you the small handful of, as he called the, “hot redheads” that he was fascinated with growing up. He could also spot a redhead a mile off.
He had a passion for gardening and had a natural green thumb. For a time he had his own plant shop in California and he loved it, but couldn’t make a living at it. He moved into shoe repair, something he also loved. He wanted to have his own shop. Repairing shoes was something he really enjoyed doing, but it was the people he was fixing the shoes for that he was most passionate about. He thought about the little girl whose buckle broke on her favorite pair of shoes or the work boot that was much cheaper to fix than to buy new, and he got right to it, always fixing the shoes the same day if he could.
Nearing thirty and tiring of the fast pace of California, he moved his young family to Idaho, in hopes of a quieter more peaceful place to live. He quickly found work in shoe repair and still had the dream of owning his own shop, but by 1980 the need for shoe repair was becoming a thing of the past as shoes became cheap to make and cheaply made. In search of a job with better pay he went to work for J.R. Simplot Company in Pocatello in 1981. It was there that he met the love of his life, a young, 21 year old redhead (he was 31) and it was love at first sight for both of them. They became, and remained, inseparable.
A ready-made family of four (son Jeremy and daughter Megan) was legalized when Gregory married LoriJean on October 3, 1986. By their first anniversary they had moved 2000 miles away and were living in a cottage on the river in a small town in Michigan. A year later they moved into a hundred year old house in downtown Traverse City, a stone’s throw from the river and a short walk to the beach. He loved it. They raised their children there and the children bring the grandchildren to “Grammy & Papa’s”. Greg & L.J. could hop on their bikes and be down to the Open Space for a concert or just to watch the sunset, in a few minutes. They watched the fireworks from the top of the garage or on a blanket in the backyard, if not down on the beach. For years he enjoyed his boat, lounging out on the water, catching some sun and sleep on a sunny afternoon or casting his fishing pole. Later he loved to take his guitar out and just play to the heavens.
He went to work for Davis Electric Company and within a few years was a Journeyman Lineman, a job he absolutely loved. He loved climbing poles and he said it kept him in the best shape of his life. He also loved being able to restore people’s power. During hurricane season he felt especially grateful for what he did and said it was a good feeling to see people’s relief and their appreciation for the long, tiring hours they worked to restore their power. After Hurricane Katrina he said a woman was so appreciative of her power being restored, she was going to bake them a pie, and she did! He said it was the best pie he’d ever had!
One of the greatest joys in Gregory’s life was his grandchildren. All the little ones, really. He loved babies and little children. When their first grandson, Grayson was born, Greg & L.J. heard his birth over the phone since they were in Idaho. When they left after a visit, Greg tried to hide with Grayson at the airport and wouldn’t let him go. When granddaughter Kaylee was born he wouldn’t let anyone else hold her. There are so many pictures of him with her. Megan had to ask to hold her own baby! The pictures holding grandson Cameron show that same light in his eye. When he had a baby in his arms, or was trying to play peek a boo and make them laugh and giggle, his whole being lit up. He was bigger than life to those little ones and as harry as he was they never were too sure until they were a bit older. But not the grandbabies. He would take their little hands from the time they were born and rub them all over his beard and kiss them and get them good and used to their harry Papa. At Hospice House, only hours before he died, the family watched two month old great-nephew Jordan talk and coo and light up, looking somewhere up. We knew he was talking to his Uncle Greg.
His love of gardening was evident everywhere around him, whether it was the thriving indoor plants or the beautiful park-like setting he created in his backyard. He also loved to fix up old houses and he & L.J. restored their home in Idaho and then totally gutted and restored their home in Michigan, one room at a time. It took them ten years but they did it on their own and never took out a single loan. His beautiful woodwork can be seen throughout.
A back injury in 2008 forced Gregory to retire a few years sooner than he had hoped, but he took advantage of the time he had and borrowed his daughter’s guitar, found a teacher, and started playing. He was dedicated and disciplined, spending many hours every day practicing. He loved to play and L.J. loved to hear him play. He also loved buying guitars and quickly learned to justify “just one more”. He ended up with two electric and two acoustic guitars, plus accessories. His excitement about anything guitars was that of a child at Christmas and the joy was contagious.
One day Gregory brought home a tiny black squirrel that he found at the base of a big tree. He told L.J., “I’m going to keep him!” Frequent bottle feedings and life resembling when you have a newborn, the Hunts raised, then released into their backyard, Rocky, the pet squirrel. Years later they still hand feed Rocky, who comes when he’s called and is never far from home.
Passionate about issues that affect his town or his neighborhood, he was a frequent and often frustrated voice at community meetings about such issues as traffic calming, parking problems, and road conditions. No one ever had to guess what was on his mind. He told it like it is and didn’t hold back. He was often called “cantankerous – in a good way”. He loved his family and cared deeply about his nieces and nephews, often “reading them the riot act” if he felt they were making poor choices or not living up to their potential. While often overreacting, his heart and his motives were always in the right place. He loved his parents and was so happy when they bought a house around the corner and moved from California in 1990. After his father’s death in 1999 Greg became fiercely protective of his mother.
A chiding sense of humor, you could always count on him giving you some straight forward one-liner that made you smile, if not chuckle. He loved a good teasing, giving it or getting it. Friends abound in the lives of Greg & L.J., thanks to their strong and long-standing connection to the recovery community. Greg had 15 years of sobriety at the time of his death and he was proud of that. He didn’t shout his recovery to the roof tops, but he didn’t hide the fact either. He and L.J. made good friends there.
Greg’s illness was only diagnosed in January and the journey was quick and painful for him and all those who love him. But his last moments were spent with LoriJean alone and it was a beautiful and easy transition. L.J. believes it’s because of the life he lived, his recovery, and his desire to live a little better life today than he did yesterday. He went with love in the room and, in that brief passing moment, two hearts became as one. The song, Endless Love, while not a favorite of Greg’s or L.J.’s, was the song that played in L.J.’s mind after he passed and his words to her bring peace.
Surviving Gregory is his family; wife, LoriJean, children, Jeremy (Lisa) Hunt, Megan (Eric) Niezgoda, grandchildren, Grayson, Kaylee, Cameron, and one on the way, “bonus” grandchildren, Ceoni, Lukas, and Ian, his mother, Beverly Hunt, sister Marney (Ed) Burdick, brother Brian Hunt, mother-in-law, Bette Farris, sister-in-law, Kristie Farris, brother-in-law, Scott (Vickie) Farris, nine nieces and nephews, fourteen great-nieces and nephews and one on the way. Gregory was preceded in death by his father and father-in-law, Richard L. Farris.
Memorial Services will be held 6pm, Friday, April 27, 2012 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City. The family will greet friend starting at 5pm. Memorial Contributions may be made to Greg's family, c/o Megan Niezgoda, 958 Minkin, Traverse City, Michigan 49685. Please visit Greg's webpage to read his Life Story and sign the guest book and share a memory with his family.