Miner extraordinaire, Ed Hunter of Victor was passionate about mining, curious to the end about the Earth and the bounty that lay beneath.
Hunter died of congestive heart failure July 7 while sitting in his chair near the bay window, presumably taking in the view of the landscape he loved, the Victorian homes, the land, the natural ambience.
He was preceded in death by his wife Cherry, who died in November 2004.
Talking about her father, Kim Hunter cherishes the memories, of a childhood spent in mining camps, of the legacy imparted by a man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Indeed, one of his last conversations was about his favorite subject, mining.
Born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y. Hunter signed on with the U.S. Army and served in the 603rd Air Squadron from 1944 to 1946.
After his discharge from the military, on the advice of a school counselor, Hunter moved west to the Colorado School of Mines, earning a degree in mining engineering in 1953, his tuition paid by the G.I Bill.
He married Cherry, an Easterner from Philadelphia, in 1952 and the two moved to Golden. “Mom worked at Coors Brewery,” Kim Hunter said.
Ed Hunter's first mining job was at the San Manuel Copper Corporation in Arizona where he started out at the bottom. “He was a mucker,” she said.
From then on, mining became part of Hunter's DNA. From Arizona to Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Alaska, he climbed the career ladder, mining coal, copper, lead, iron and finally gold. “I always say I grew up in a mining camp,” said Kim Hunter, one of four siblings born near or in mining camps in the West.
“As children we'd go on vacations to mining ghost towns; I thought this was what all children do for vacations,” she said. “But it was wonderful in a sense, because we got to see the West, the terrain change and learn about local communities.”
In 1975, the Hunters, Ed, Cherry and their youngest child, Liz, went to Nome, Ak., where he was charged with re-opening the gold dredges which had been shut down by the Alaskan government in 1961. “It was so exciting - my sister Nancy and I spent summers there,” she said.
The family left Nome on a ferry through the Inland Passage on the Bering Strait. “Dad was always ready to meet the next challenge,” she said.
He found it in Victor, where he first worked for the Cripple Creek & Victor GMC, a joint venture of Texas Gulf and Golden Cycle. He retired in 1993 as the history/culture permit manager for the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co.
Over the years, Hunter developed a reputation as an educator and advocate for mining. “To me that captures what Dad was about. He wanted to make mining come to life and make it real for people,” she said. “He tried to educate the public about the every-day uses of mining through the trails and the interpretive signs, talking about mining, bringing it to life.”
With a ravenous need to reach the highest number of people, Hunter joined the Teller County Focus Group, wrote the interpretive signs and with his wife, helped build the trails around Victor. “I don't even like to think of all the log-hauling they did on the trails, well into their 70s,” Kim Hunter said.
The Hunters' home reverberates with mining memorabilia, a well-used lunch box, tools, photographs and books, each to be donated to the Lowell Thomas Museum. “When I think of my dad, his two big loves were my mom and mining,” Kim Hunter said. “Mining was in his pores; he had a deep knowledge of mining and the American West.”
In addition to siblings Kim, Nancy and Liz Hunter-Ball, Ed Hunter is survived by Andrew Hunter; and their families. At Ed Hunter's request, there were no services and the family request donations be made in his name to the Lowell Thomas Museum.
Jane Mannon, community affairs manager for CC & V, pays tribute to Hunter:
“It is so hard to imagine not getting random newspaper magazine clippings in my box anymore. He read everything, and could recall even the smallest bits of information. Ed was always such a great resource, I get lots of requests for information about the mining district, and Ed was the go-to guy. He would come up with the most obscure information. Even if he couldn't find what someone was looking for, he could provide information that would be of interest.
I'll miss him saying “good on you,” and advising against letting those “pot lickers” get under my skin.
CC&V's process building is named after Ed. He is the exception to the rule of not naming anything permanent for a living person. There was never any question the he would do anything but make us proud to see his name every day.
He loved Victor and the mine. He was a driving force behind the trails and interpretive signs of the Southern Teller County Focus Group. The State Historic Fund tried to complain about the length of the text on the signs, but it was just do darned interesting that we couldn't cut anything. The longer signs would give hikers an opportunity to take a rest from hiking at over the 10,000-foot elevation.
MANNON RECALLS A STORY TOLD BY GREG WINKLER, FORMER COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR:
Gov. Roy Romer was on one of his “Romer on the Range” tours and was in Victor and Ed got to telling stories. David Snell, the Teller County Administrator at the time, was getting anxious about getting to the next stop on time. Snell tried to gently prod Romer to move along, and the Governor replied “Shut up, Ed is talking!”
Ed had the ability to hold everyone's attention with a great story, and make us late for the next, very unimportant, event on our calendar.