The Rim Country lost a pioneer son this week when Lufkin Hunt died July 30 at his home in Strawberry.
Hunt, the son of a pioneer family who has been in the Rim Country since the early 1880s, was profiled by the Roundup in 2001 as one of the area's "Living Legends."
At the time, he and his wife, Mary, lived in the Strawberry cabin where Hunt was born in 1923. He died in that same home this week.
"Living on Fossil Creek Road there were always people who needed help. It is something my great-granddad did and something Dad continued to do," said his son, Albert, in an interview Wednesday.
Not only did Hunt help people who ran into trouble on Fossil Creek Road, he helped his neighbors throughout Strawberry, Pine and the Rim Country.
He served on the governing board of the Pine Strawberry School for many years; was a lifetime member and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving as chairman of the committee which built the new chapel in Pine; and contributed his time, energy and knowledge to benefit the region and state with Natural Resource Conservation District service.
The pioneering Hunt family grew potatoes, corn, beans and apples and transported the produce by wagon to markets in Globe, Winslow and Camp Verde. While he was a Strawberry native with deep roots in the little mountain community, Hunt had to attend high school in Mesa. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He served during World War II on a B-29 bomber and saw duty in South America, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India, Japan, Guam and the Marianas.
Hunt and his wife, Mary, made their home in Mesa during the early years of their long marriage and had seven children. He brought his young family back to Strawberry in 1957.
"Dad loved Pine and Strawberry and wanted to be part of everything and to keep the old time heritage alive," said his son, Albert.
Hunt showed that love of the community through his involvement in his church, the school and more. He was on the governing board of the Pine Strawberry School for many years and was instrumental in getting the new facility for the students.
"He always cared about the children -- and every single person as an individual," said Sue Myers, who was at Pine Strawberry School for 12 years, first as a teacher, then as its administrator.
"I think he really enjoyed his years of service on the school board and was proud of what he did," Myers said.
"Dad, above all, loved the ranching life," said Albert.
"He liked working the cows and even kept a few head after selling the ranch in the late 1970s.
"He always had friends from the Valley coming up wanting to get a taste of ranching and he was always real patient with the greenhorns."
Hunt became a working cowboy at the tender age of 8, according to his son.
"When he was little, the family used to take the cattle to Clarkdale and he was always after them to let him come. When he was 8, he was told he could go. But there was to be no whining and he had to take care of all the horses," Albert said.
So, at the age of 8, Lufkin Hunt worked a herd of horses on a trail drive from the family ranch on Fossil Creek Road, down the canyon and through the Verde Valley to Clarkdale and the train.
Darrell Floyd, former bishop of the Pine Ward of the LDS Church, first met Hunt when the new chapel was opened.
"I was impressed by his willingness to help people," Floyd said.
He shared an example of just how far Hunt would go when he reached out to someone.
"At the chapel there is this area at the front door where you can get out of the cold. One morning Lufkin and I went to the chapel and found this man asleep on the floor there. Lufkin invited him to come home with him and found him a place to stay. Most people would be very reluctant to do something like that."
Floyd said he also learned some important lessons from Hunt.
"He told me ‘you need to learn how to love people ... look into their heart and know how they feel.'"
Floyd said that Hunt felt that was the key to serving people in the way they most needed.
"I think what I appreciated most about Lufkin was his honesty and integrity -- it was that of an old cowboy. My wife and I bought a piece of property from him on a handshake. People don't do that anymore. It was the cowboy way.
"He also taught me about staying close to your family and teaching them the good things in life. He taught me how to be a better father and a better husband. He blessed me in life for all eternity."
More information about Lufkin Hunt and details about the funeral services are in the obituaries section.