By Jef Rietsma
A pillar in the community was recognized Oct. 4 by the Vicksburg Village Council.
Bill Hunt was the recipient of many accolades, as he recently stepped down from the village’s Planning Commission following a 12-year membership. Hunt in various capacities has represented the village for more than 60 years.
Council President Tim Frisbie described Hunt as someone “you meet early in life and you never forget,” before citing the list of Hunt’s involvement in the community. The list is long. Highlights include: co-owner of the former Shell gas station on Prairie Street, owner of the Citgo station where Fred’s pharmacy now sits, Vicksburg ambulance board from 1963 to 1979, Vicksburg fireman and eventually assistant chief from 1964 to 1982, Rotary Club member from 1965 to 1979, and Vicksburg Jaycees from 1962 to 1969.
Professionally, Hunt retired from the Upjohn Company in 1996 after being issued the Upjohn Award in 1995.
That wasn’t all.
“He’s delivered Christmas baskets for South County as well as a Metro driver; he was a driver for the ‘Wednesday’s Winners,’ he’s helped Generous Hands pick up food deliveries from Loaves and Fishes,” Frisbie said.
Regarding the Shell station, Frisbie noted: “The building is gone but our memories live on.” After referencing the Citgo station, Frisbie added: “I recall as a kid climbing on the giant airplane tire that was between the gas station and Clark Park.”
Village Manager Jim Mallery said he has been fortunate to have Hunt as a neighbor the past 20 years and as a historical resource during his five-plus years as village manager.
Council members approved a resolution recognizing Hunt’s 58 years of distinguished service to the village. The fanfare, however, continued before their vote.
Council member Julie Merrill said she was astonished to learn the extent of Hunt’s involvement in the community. She said Hunt “is one of the good guys.” Meanwhile, Gail Reisterer, said Hunt never turned down a request to volunteer for a community function and thanked him for being someone she could count on.
Rick Holmes said Hunt and his generosity are reminders of why people volunteer their time for the betterment of a community.
“There’s not too many good guys left anymore but you remind us of what we all aspire to be … that’s why we do what we do,” he said. “It’s people like you and others in the community that are examples of what these people are trying to be. You inspire all of us.”
Hunt, who was humbled by the attention and praise, thanked everyone for their kind words. Hunt lived up to his reputation as a man of few words as he addressed the audience.
“I wish I could keep on going longer yet, but things have changed in the last few months … but I’m still going to be here,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of things to do yet.”
Afterward, Hunt said he was grateful for the acknowledgment and rued the fact he was no longer able to continue serving on the planning commission.
“Well, I’m very thankful for the recognition … it was very nice of them to do that,” said Hunt, whose family moved to Vicksburg in 1946 and farmed the land at what is now Key Blooms on Sprinkle Road. “I just … I just tried to help whenever I could and I’m thankful I could do what I did.”
Hunt, father of two daughters, said the village council ceremony was a surprise in terms of how personal it was. He said he was expecting little more than a few kind words and a handshake.
Several members of Hunt’s family, including his wife, Sue, were present.
By Jef Rietsma