Richard E. Hunt, a man who literally helped build much of Lebanon, passed away Thursday at age 83.
"For years, Daddy was an icon in this town," said son William "Bill" Hunt, saying that his father was very successful in his business endeavors. "It's amazing that he did all he'd done. He always amazed me."
Hunt passed away on Feb. 20, 2008, at Lebanon Health and Rehab, leaving behind three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
His other legacies can be seen as one travels the streets of Lebanon.
Hunt built many of the buildings in Lebanon, including the Wilson County Courthouse, First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, TRW, SunTrust Bank at Greenwood Street, originally owned by People's Bank, and some schools in the Mt. Juliet area.
"He built a lot of things. He was a really good man," his son said. "Everything he touched turned to gold. He had a knack for getting involved and doing the right thing."
While many may remember Hunt for his buildings, he tried his hand at a number of other professions as well.
When he was only 12, he went to work at a plant in Detroit, Mich., owned by Henry Ford, eventually known as Ford Motor Company. His family said he had a life-long love for cars.
A few years later he went overseas with the military.
"He was in the Coast Guard and he was actually at Normandy," his youngest daughter, Susan "Susie" Bay James said.
Eldest daughter Janice Lloyd said the Coast Guard was "pretty much the Navy at the time," and that their father was part of the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.
"He was very proud of that and even went back to the 50th anniversary in 1994," James said.
Lloyd said that their father met three U.S. presidents as a result of his time in the service.
While he was born in Michigan and spent some time living in California, Lloyd said their father always considered Lebanon home.
"He loved Lebanon," she said. "He always felt like that was his home. I think he liked it because it was a small town. He liked the people, and he started his business there."
After moving to Tennessee from Michigan, Hunt, who was a licensed funeral director and embalmer, worked for a time with Ligon & Bobo Funeral Home. He had a real estate license and owned a Century 21 franchise in Rivergate for a time, according to James.
"He sang at MGM studios, and he had quite a voice," Lloyd said. "He owned a travel agency, was the president of a bank, built just multiple, multiple things. He owned car dealerships, restaurants, and hotels all over the place."
"He always kept me on my toes as far as business," James remembered. "He would always ask me hard questions. He expected a lot out of all three of his children. I appreciate that. Everything you do growing up, your life experiences, make you what you are."
While all Hunt's children commented on their father's passion for business, his sense of humor was another attribute that they mentioned.
"He definitely had a good sense of humor," Lloyd said. "He definitely persevered. He was a hard, hard worker. He loved to travel. He loved people."
"I think he was really proud of all of us and what we have accomplished," James said.
Lloyd said the family also continues to learn about those their father helped.
"He helped a lot of people," she said. "A lot of the time, it's things that we don't even know about that we hear about. He was always looking for people to help. He came in contact with a lot of people. He always thought so much of people who were hard workers and he wanted to help them."
During his final years, Hunt lived at Lebanon Health and Rehab, and his family wanted to express their appreciation to those who worked there, saying that allowing their father to live there was "the right choice."
"He was at Lebanon Health and Rehab for right at two years," James said. "They were wonderful. It was his home and the staff treated all of us like family, and they were so respectful to all of us, and to him. Even though yesterday was one of the hardest days we've ever hard, I went back today to thank all of them."
Staff Writer Sara McCarty may be reached at 615-444-3952 ext. 45 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.