Russel Alec Hunt was born April 20, 1951, in Ritzville, Washington to Ross and Violet (Geddes) Hunt. He attended grade school in Walla Walla, Washington, and the family moved to Haines in Baker County, Oregon when he was 11. He was active in Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1966. Russ graduated from Baker High School in 1969. In 1970 he joined the United States Navy and completed 5 1/2 years of military service as a Navy Musician. His sea tours, among other things, included Vietnam, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience of picking up the Apollo 16 Astronauts after splashdown. Russ was selected for Navy’s Show Band West and toured for several years in the Western United States. He then was transferred to “Flagship,” Navy’s rock band in Orlando, Florida, and was stationed there until his honorable discharge in 1975.
Russ married Sharon McLean in 1974 and the marriage was dissolved within a year. He married Joan Bagley McClure in 1975 after he was discharged from the Navy. They moved to Haines and a son, Daniel, was born in 1977. That marriage was dissolved in 1996.
Russ had a number of occupations in his lifetime. He began working in hay fields as a young man and also worked as a short-order cook and gas station attendant. He owned his own fiberglass shop, a dental lab, was a real estate broker and worked in a nursing home. He worked for the Forest Service as a firefighter and on a survey crew. He was active in Baker County Search & Rescue, worked as a reserve deputy for the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and served on the Haines City Council. He taught First Aid and was actively involved in the Little League Program, both as a coach and referee. He also rejoined the military as a medic in the Army National Guard.
At the age of 33, Russ went to college and in 1988 completed Bachelor Degrees in both Nursing and Psychology from Oregon Health Sciences University and Eastern Oregon University. He returned to the Navy by commissioning into the Naval Officer Corps where he served as a Nurse until he retired from the Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant Commander in 2003, with more than 24 years of total military service.
In 1991 after completing a Master’s Degree in Nursing, he found his niche as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Russ was a faculty member of OHSU’s Nursing Program on Eastern Oregon University’s Campus from 1991 to 1997 and was also a student advisor. He was one of the first in the nation to use audio-video technology both as an instructor and clinician. When he left OHSU in 1997, he worked in community mental health in Harney, Lake, Baker, and Umatilla Counties. He also opened a part-time, then full-time private practice. Russ had a passion for helping veterans and scaled back his private practice in order to provide psychiatric services to the VA Clinic in La Grande for 4 years. He retired from federal service in 2013 and returned to a full-time private practice.
In 2002, Russ married Anita Enneberg Hunt, the love of his life. For the 16+ years they were married, he and Anita did everything as a team; from the office to farm work and working with ponies; from playing music to cooking and traveling. They loved being together and she supported him in his other interests and hobbies. Russ loved to hunt and fish. He trained and showed Welsh Ponies; flew their airplane (even after two plane crashes); and enjoyed working with his hands - from mechanics to new construction, remodeling and frame building. He was passionate about music and played with “The Blue Yesterdays,” Baker City’s big band of which he was an original member; The “Quartet” four saxophonists in La Grande; the Community Symphonic Band in La Grande; and “The Sometimes Band,” a mostly-family group that played for church-related events. He loved his home - from the view of the Grande Ronde Valley to working with the machinery. He treasured his family and friends and his church family from both Elgin and Imbler Christian Churches. He loved the Lord with all his heart and it was his goal that his friends and family would also love the Lord.
Russ was a long-time member of the National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH), formerly served on their Board of Directors and presented numerous times at their annual conference. In more recent years, being a member of the Navy Musicians Association and attending the NMA Reunions reconnected him with shipmates from long ago.
In 2014 he was diagnosed with colon cancer and it was metastasis from that which ultimately took his life on November 9, 2018.
Russ is survived by his wife, Anita, of Summerville OR; sons Daniel (Joy) Hunt of Elgin OR; Ross Kemp of Shreveport LA; and Lane (Katrina) Kemp of Biloxi MS; brothers Eugene (Rhea) Hunt; and Robert Hunt; grandchildren Taylor, DJ, Gabby, Max, Zoe & Wyatt; as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ross & Violet Hunt and his brother, Daniel.
A Celebration of Life with military honors will be held Saturday, May 18, 2019, at the Baker City Christian Church (675 OR Hwy 7) at 2:00 p.m. in Baker City, Oregon. Memorial contributions may be made to Cove Christian Camp, The Blue Yesterdays or the Navy Musicians Association, c/o Gray’s West & Co Pioneer Chapel,1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.
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