EVELYN JOAN HUNTER
Evelyn Joan Hunter, nee Hoodlet, died unexpectedly at 5:31 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, of medical complications.
She was born at 5 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, 1935, at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to Nellie Joan (Slifko) Hoodlet and John W. Hoodlet. They lived in the German Village of Columbus.
Evelyn began accordion lessons at age five. She practiced every morning before going to school. She loved practicing. She took lessons from Mrs. Charlotte Gamble at the Lazarus store in Columbus, Ohio. They had an accordion band, in which Evelyn worked up to first chair. First chair was given the piccolo parts as transcribed for accordion, as well as other roles. Evelyn also studied with Mitzi Joyce in Columbus.
She played at Memorial Hall in Columbus and provided dinner music at the Southern Hotel, Deschler Wallick Hotel, and for civic and fraternal organizations. She entertained at Lockbourne airbase, and at veterans and public hospitals. She had radio experience in Columbus, as well as appeared on WTVN-TV.
Evelyn’s parents bought a full-sized concert Excelsior accordion for her when she was 11 years old. It weighs 30 pounds. Her teacher arranged many opportunities for her students to play out. She played concerts at large auditoriums in Columbus. Evelyn remembered playing at a hospital, going from room to room asking if the patients had a song they would like to request. Shortly after she left one room, a nurse came running after her and asked what Evelyn had done in the room. She had asked what song the man would like to hear and played his choice for him. The nurse said this was
the first time the man had spoken in several months.
Evelyn’s father, a man with red hair and blue eyes, taught her to drive in his Model T Ford. Her mother was a kind loving mother who worked as a waitress at Schmidt’s Sausage House, in the German Village. Her father worked at Columbus Hardware. During WWII they both worked in the Curtis Wright aircraft factory in Columbus. Evelyn graduated from South High School, Columbus in June of 1953. She studied art and business courses. She was proud to have had four years of art. That love of art she carried on in the theater and in many ways, such as helping her children with school projects, and painting pictures of cartoon characters on large boards that were displayed for many years attached to the fence that went around the Kiddy Park near the marina and Alpena Yacht Club.
After graduating from high school, Evelyn went to a music convention in Columbus and interviewed with all the places looking for accordion teachers. She was offered three jobs, ones in Fort Wayne, Ind., Flint, Mich., and Alpena, Mich. She chose Alpena, because she had never heard of it and the name intrigued her. She and her mother got into the car of Mr. Ash, owner of a music store in Alpena, who drove them to Alpena. They found a place for Evelyn to board at the house of Mrs. Piper, who lived on the corner of McKinley Street and Sixth Avenue. Evelyn began teaching at the Ash School of Music, affiliated with Ash’s Music and Radio store. As part of her job for Mr. Ash, she taught at the school in Johannesburg, Mich., in the basement boiler room! Later she gave private lessons at her house on Eighth Avenue, Alpena.
Evelyn married Frank R. Hunter at St. Bernard’s Church, Alpena on Aug.16, 1955, by Rev. Olin J. Murdick. They made their first home at 209 Fifth Avenue, Alpena.
Evelyn had never played a polka until she came to teach in Alpena. Her repertoire included: Humouresque by Dvorak, Blue Danube, Dizzy Fingers, classical music and the standards. She had an outstanding memory for music, so she could play requests for almost any song a person would name. She took her Alpena students to competitions in Detroit and Chicago. She designed floats for her students to ride on in parades.
Evelyn worked for 15 years at the Paper Works book and art supply store, located on Second Avenue, Alpena; which was owned by Bob and Ada Dickenson. She assisted her husband, in running Hunter Funeral Home and in his many leadership roles in Alpena. With her husband: she helped with the Catholic Central Band Boosters, who put on many theatrical shows under the director of Myron David Orr starting in 1954 and continuing into the ’60s to large audiences, often using prominent members of the community as actors. Myron David Orr would write some of the shows which were often variety shows. Total audiences were estimated at 3,000 in four performances each.
She was a member of the American Accordionists Association, Alpena Yacht Club, Alpena Civic Theatre, Power Squadron, Thunder Bay Arts Council, Besser Museum Founders Society, Moose Club, and Daughters of Isabella.
Among her volunteering works were: ARMC hospital volunteer in the gift shop, Nursing Administration and Human Resources; Editor of the Jesse Besser Museum’s Founder’s Society newsletter; Editor of the Thunderation newsletter for the Power Squadron; accompanist/ pianist for the Alpena Barbershop quartet singing organization for several years.
Prepared advertising and articles for Alpena Civic Theatre for many years. None of the articles carried a byline, but many Civic Theatre articles during the 1990s though the 2016 season were written by Evelyn Hunter.
Evelyn’s other activities at Alpena Civic Theatre were as Director and Assistant director to other directors, and often for Ron Ross and Carol Witherbee. Her love of music attracted her to help with musicals like, My Fair Lady, Annie, Seussical and “A” My Name is Alice. She received the Alpena Civic Theatre President’s award for 2003-2004 season from Ron Ross, and the 2012-13 Season from Julie Myers. Directed about seven children’s plays in summers of 1990s, Including How to Eat Fried Worms and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Evelyn worked in the box office of Alpena Civic Theatre. She directed, Black Comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Harvey. The last play she helped with was Mr. Roberts, directed by Pat Jacques. She had been hoping and planning to work on a musical next year, and considering a play adaptation of the Groucho Marx movie, Duck Soup.
She was a board member Alpena Arts Council, and was a charter board member of the Bingham Arts Academy.
Evelyn is survived by her children: Mark John Hunter, Thomas R. Hunter, Audrey J. McKimmy (Scott), and Beverly Sue Thomas (Timothy); grandchildren, Thomas R. Hunter II, Heather Cosgrove (Tom), Nicholas McKimmy, Dustin McKimmy, Mitchell Thomas (Brittany), and Jason Thomas; and great grandchildren, Corbin Hunter, Trent Cosgrove and Cohen Cosgrove. She was predeceased by her husband, her sister, Roberta Ann Taylor, her parents; her grandparents, Clarence Brenton Hoodlet and Hessie Dell (Terrel) Hoodlet ( Della Matson) and George and Anna (Spegar) Slifko.
Visitation will be held at Bannan Funeral Home, Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. Visitation will resume Friday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home, services to begin at 11 a.m. Sister Mary Hughes officiating.
Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Thank you to Mr. Ted Beck of Rogers City, who assisted our family.
Online condolences may be addressed through www.beckfuneralhome.org.