Kathryn Motz Hunter - business woman, civic leader, and pioneer for women - died on Dec. 8, 2012 after a short illness. She led a life that was full, robust, multi-faceted, and like no other.
The oldest child of Clarence E. and Maud R. Motz, Mrs. Hunter graduated from Buchtel High School and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in business from Ohio Wesleyan University where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Mortarboard, and the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
After college, she returned to Akron and served for 18 years as editor and publisher of the Hudson Times, the Falls News, and the Summit County Democrat - three newspapers owned by her father, a tough and strong-willed lawyer who also served as chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party. In 1957, and under her leadership, these newspapers received more awards than any other weekly publication in Ohio.
In the late 1960s Mrs. Hunter earned her master's degree in guidance counseling from the University of Akron - an educational experience that served as the foundation for a teaching career that followed. As an instructor at the University of Akron, she designed and taught several ground-breaking courses - including "Women: Plan for the Second Half of Your Life' and "Combining Career and Marriage." These courses - at the time viewed in some quarters as provocative - inspired legions of women to view their potential in new and different ways and to aspire to goals many earlier thought to be unobtainable.
Mrs. Hunter also undertook leadership roles in several family businesses. After the 1990 death of her husband, John B. Hunter, she assumed the responsibilities of President of First Akron Corp. -- a holding company for several affiliated businesses engaged in mortgage banking, title services and real estate development. She also served as chairman of the company -- an honorary position - at Valley Savings Bank. For more than 20 years, she worked in concert with her children -- David, James and Ann -- and others to promote the successes of these companies.
Mrs. Hunter relished the opportunity to give back to the greater Akron community she loved and did so in many organizations during many years. During her lifetime, she served as a Founding Trustee of both E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall and the National Inventors Hall of Fame; as a Trustee of Akron Community Foundation, Akron Roundtable, the Ritchie Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Greater Akron Musical Association, the Ohio Ballet, Old Trail School, Ohioana, the Ohio Historical Society and its Foundation, the John S. Knight Center, International Institute of Akron, Summit Education Partnership, Falls Family Services, Sumner Home, The Church In Silver Lake, and Project Grad.
Mrs. Hunter served with distinction on the Board of Trustees of both of her alma maters: Ohio Wesleyan University from 1978 to 1988 and the University of Akron from 1989 to 1996. She also served on the Board of Visitors of Hiram College.
Over the years, Mrs. Hunter's contributions have been honored by many. She has been named Woman of the Year by the Akron Beacon Journal, Akron Business Woman of the Year by Inside Business Magazine, Woman of the Year by the Women's History Project, Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year, Woman Philanthropist of the Year by United Way of Summit County, and one of the 100 Top Women of Distinction by the YWCA. She was presented with the Founder's Award by Women's Network, the Director's Award by the Ohio Historical Society, and the Crystal Cross Award by the American Lung Association. More recently, she received the 2010 Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award.
Her life experiences were varied -- from interviewing Eleanor Roosevelt in Akron's Mayflower Hotel, to planning with Broadway's Vincent Sardi a gala civic event in Akron, to snorkeling in the Virgin Islands with her children, their spouses and her grandchildren.
Preceded in death by her parents and John B. Hunter, her husband of 46 years, Mrs. Hunter is survived by her three children, David M. Hunter (Margaret) of Silver Lake; James B. Hunter (Susan) of Cuyahoga Falls; Ann Hunter Durr (James) of Silver Lake; and six grandchildren, Marie Hunter, Helen Hunter, Kathryn Durr, Lindsay Hunter, Lauren Hunter and Joseph Durr.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Kathryn M. Hunter will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Dec. 23 on the campus of Western Reserve Academy in Hudson. Memorials may be made in honor of Mrs. Hunter to Akron Community Foundation, 345 West Cedar St., Akron, Ohio 44307.