Hunt Retires After 25 Years Of Service

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Last Tuesday, longtime resident and founding family matriarch Mary Hunt retired from the Pine Library Board and the Pine Strawberry Historical Society Board after 25 years of continuous volunteer service.

"They never did fire me," Hunt said. She scolded her fellow historical board members for singling her out for recognition.
"Mary's a jewel," board member Bob Fuller said.

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Mary Hunt shares the stories of the Strawberry Schoolhouse with a third-grade class of American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood. Hunt has been providing tours to schoolchildren for many years, adding a warmth and caring to the history. Feeling very at home at the desk and in front of children, Hunt said her mother was a teacher and three of her daughters are in teaching today.

"She's walking history," board member Louise Anslow said.

"You know who we call when we have a question," board president Melvin Van Vorst said.
Hunt started with the Historical Society April 13, 1978 -- the date of incorporation and she has been the "go to" person for information ever since. Reporters, researchers, historians and curious visitors have been interviewing Hunt for the past 25 years.

More than just her personal and first-hand knowledge of the local history, it is her passion for sharing the details and the funny stories that bring people back.

"Because I love doing it," she says to those who wonder why she has given so much time and energy. "The wonderful people, I would not have known all of these wonderful people."

Taking off her more political hat, Hunt fully intends to continue her volunteer time at the museum and the Strawberry Schoolhouse. There is not another person living who has more knowledge of the intimate details and the stories that lurk in the walls of the tiny log cabin on Fossil Creek Road officially titled The Oldest Standing Schoolhouse in Arizona.

Wednesday, following her resignation from the board, Hunt was at the schoolhouse for a couple of hours with school children from Frontier Elementary in Payson and American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood.

The children sat in old-fashioned school desks listening to the soft-spoken gray haired lady who told great tales of pack rats and what school was like for the students at the turn of the century. Even the teachers were caught up in the tales of long dresses and slate blackboard.

Listening to Hunt as she goes through the museum, the walking history tour or the schoolhouse, you will find that a piece of her heart and family will always be a part of Pine-Strawberry.

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