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Hunt remains the life of the party

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Albert Hunt's brother, Robert, described him as an inventive guy who "liked to pull practical jokes."

His second wife, Gwen, called him "the life of the party," to which he replied, "I try to be. I like to laugh a lot."

Hunt, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot who has lived in various parts of Clayton County for more than 40 years, turned 90 on Saturday. He celebrated the milestone at the My Place Coffee Cafe in Jonesboro, with several relatives and members of his Sunday School class from First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.

"You know, it's my birthday, but I don't feel any older," said Hunt, who now lives in Jonesboro. "The secret to living a long life is to tell the truth -- and never lie to your woman. If you lie to your woman, she won't trust you anymore, and for good reason."

Albert Hunt was born on Aug. 9, 1918, in Boaz, Ala., as the third son of Belton and Lavonia Hunt. His older brothers died from colitis shortly after they were born. The young Albert had colitis, too, but his

family's doctor decided to experiment by putting paregoric on the child's gums. The colitis went away as a result.

When Hunt was about 12, his father took him on his first deer hunt, with only one instruction -- do not shoot any deer that do not have antlers.

"Well, I wasn't on my stand 30 minutes and this fawn came walking by," Hunt said. "It had to be no more than six feet away from me. I could have reached out and touched it with my hand, but I remembered what my father told me. I didn't shoot that fawn."

A few years later, when Hunt was 16, he decided to construct a swinging cat door in the wall of his parent's home. He went to a junk yard and found a piece of metal to use as the door; some worn out

shoes, so he could use the leather as a hinge, and magnetos, which provided electrical currents for old Ford Model T's. He cut a hole in the wall, attached the cat door to the wall, and built a ramp outside,

which led to the door.

Being the practical jokester, Hunt decided to have a little light-hearted fun with the felines, though.

"He then hooked the magnetos up the ramp, which he then covered with a piece of foil," Robert Hunt said. "So, whenever a cat would step on the ramp, it would get shocked."

Not long after that, Albert's parent sent him to a military school in College Park. "They hoped I'd be able to earn an appointment at West Point," he said. He did not get the appointment at the U.S. Army's military academy, but he eventually ended up in that other military branch, which for so long, has been the Army's biggest rival -- the U.S. Navy. He taught recruits how to shoot guns at a base in Corpus Christi, Texas from 1944-47.

"They saw me get a perfect score at the shooting range [as a recruit], and they said, 'We want you to teach others how to shoot as well as you do,'" Hunt said. "I told my recruits, 'If you want to hit the bull's eye every time, just listen to me.' Eventually, it got to where they learned how to shoot just like I did."

Hunt resigned from the Navy after only three years, so he could be with his first wife when she gave birth to their second child, Mary. Several years later, on a snowy day in January 1964, a then-single

Hunt was driving to his job at Delta, when he saw a young woman, named Gwen, sitting at a bus stop near the Atlanta Municipal Airport (now Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport).

She was waiting for a bus to take her to her job at a local library, but Hunt heard the announcer on the radio report no buses would be running that day because of the snow. Hunt decided to pull over to the

bus stop, and offered Gwen a ride.

"I never would have accepted a ride from a stranger before then, or after that day, but he just looked like a nice guy," She said on Saturday, during Hunt's birthday party.

They communicated with each other after that day, and friendship quickly developed into love. Albert told Gwen he couldn't stand not being married to her much longer, and she felt the same way. So, they

got married in 1965, and have stayed together ever since.

"Not too long after we got married, he started talking about how we'd be married for at least 50 years, and I said 'Yeah right, like either of us will live that long,'" Gwen Hunt said. "But here we are, 43

years later, and it looks like we'll be together for many more years."