T David Hunt

Thomas David Hunt, 92, passed away peacefully Saturday June 6, 2020 at his Charleston home in the company of his two sons.

T Dave in his Charleston home, photo taken April 2019

TDave (never Thomas) Hunt was born January 1, 1928 in Norfolk Virginia to Ildah Idell Thompson Hunt and James Clarence Hunt. Originally from Upstate New York and Central Missouri, TDave’s parents created a miniature farm in the city on their spare lots complete with a garden and Betsy the Guernsey-Jersey cow. TDave’s summer job was shelling and selling the butter beans from their garden. Year-round he hand churned and sold the butter from Betsy’s rich milk.

While attending Maury High School during World War II, TDave switched jobs to sell papers to the sailors outside the naval base entrance knowing they were desperate for news. TDave was the recipient of the sailors’ generosity, slipping him rationed goods such as sugar or tips he used to buy Hershey bars. TDave’s newspaper job was so lucrative that he sold his “route” to a friend as he left for college, later using his newspaper earnings to buy his first car, a red Ford convertible.

TDave received a chemical engineering degree from the University of Virginia in three years as part of a postwar year-round accelerated program. He began working at Union Carbide in 1948, and met Betty Jane (BJ) Watkins. BJ was a medical technologist at Thomas Memorial Hospital and lifetime member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He loved to tell how he knew BJ was a contender when she enjoyed her meals on their date nights instead of pretending to have no appetite. They would often travel two to three hours in his red convertible to experience a new restaurant.

Drafted at 26 after multiple deferments, TDave and BJ were married on March 21, 1954 between his basic training and his assignment to the Ballistics Research Lab at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. After two colorful years in the army, TDave and BJ returned to Charleston, where TDave continued his work at Carbide until his retirement in 1985. Early in his career, he received a patent for a fiber spinning technique and finished his 35-year career managing the research libraries at the South Charleston Tech Center.

In 1964, TDave and his wife worked with an architect to design and build a custom contemporary home in the South Hills area of Charleston where he lived the remainder of his life. In his time off, he crafted kitchen cabinets and furniture for his house. He enjoyed kayaking the Birch and other West Virginia streams as an early member of the West Virginia Wildwater Association. He shared his love of kayaking with his sons and other youth, organizing kayaking trips for the National Youth Science Camp. TDave also volunteered as a Junior Achievement Mentor helping kids engineer and manufacture products to sell. As a Boy Scout Troop 31 Council Member, he was a frequent driver for monthly outings and participant in overnight canoe trips on the Mohican River. A favorite story was how the scouts planned a dinner of tuna fish and apple butter sandwiches which were consumed open-faced because there was only one loaf of bread.

TDave loved to travel with BJ and their sons, exploring the West Virginia backroads, the US, and Canada. After 40 years of marriage, BJ passed away at age of 67 and TDave took to traveling the world: adventuring through China, along the Silk Road, Nepal, Bhutan, Greenland, Iceland, Kenya, The Gambia, Chile, The Seychelles and more. He shared his adventures as the Curious Traveler with family, friends, senior centers and civic groups through beautiful slide shows and travelogues.

Live performances were a pleasure for TDave; he saw the initial Light Opera Production of HMS Pinafore in 1949, slipped into Broadway shows when traveling to New York for Carbide, and was a frequent attendee at Community Music Association, WV Symphony, and Light Opera Guild Events.

TDave was a lifelong learner, voracious news reader, and crossword puzzle aficionado. His insightful perspective, broad knowledge of the world, humorous storytelling, and warm relationships with his family, friends, and new acquaintances will be missed.

TDave is survived by his two sons, two daughters-in-laws, three grandchildren, and his friend, neighbor and long-time travel companion.