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Hal Hunt '55 Believes in Sharing the Gift of Whitman

By Savannah Tranchell

A portrait of Hal Hunt '55

Hal Hunt '55 believes strongly in the quality of the education he received at Whitman and the positive influence he's seen it have on so many other students - and his own family.

Hunt followed his brother to Whitman College. It's where he met his wife, Cora Dee (Peterson) Hunt ‘55. Her mother also attended Whitman and played on the Whitman women's basketball team - she was 5 feet tall on a good day, Hunt said. Hal and Cora's son graduated from Whitman, as did a nephew and niece.

"There's a big family attraction and association with Whitman," Hunt said.

That shared enthusiasm for what the college does for students and the community is why Hunt chooses to regularly give back by donating through his IRA distributions. The gifts allow him to use the money he's required to withdraw annually to support a cause that's important to him.

"The IRA is a wonderful way to give. You're required to take a certain amount out," said Hunt, a retired pediatrician who now lives in Spokane, Washington. "But for me, if I don't need all of the money that I'm required to take out, what should I do with it? Well, if you have extra left over, give it to an institution that's important to you."

When Hunt attended Whitman College in the 1950s, tuition was $800. Even accounting for inflation, tuition is a significantly larger chunk of a family's income now than it was then. In 2012, Hunt and his brother J. Harry Hunt Jr. '52, sister-in-law Susan Bird Hunt '54, and brother-in-law John Peterson '54, decided to pool their resources and create a scholarship fund to support qualified students who otherwise couldn't afford a Whitman education.

"Each year, we give gifts to that particular fund. It's coming along very nicely," he said.

Hunt has also given back to the college in other ways; for example, donating a piano to the Department of Music. He and his brother-in-law John Peterson also donated a large collection of paintings by Emile Lahner, which are displayed in the Memorial Building. He's also named the college as a beneficiary in his IRA, removing it from estate taxes. In 2008, Hunt received the Gordon Scribner Award for Distinguished Service. He continues to serve on the college's Planned Giving Committee.

"Typically around the fifth and sixth decade, life becomes a bit more serene. Whatever your work might be, an internal confidence is established. One begins to ponder: ‘How do I give back?' Whitman gave me a gift — I would like others to experience that gift."

Learn more about how you can support Whitman at whitman.edu/giving.

Published on Jul 31, 2019
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