After many years of Ted Hunter joking “The man upstairs doesn’t want me,” Ted kicked the bucket, bought the farm, and cashed in his chips on Nov. 9, 2019.
Theodore Knight Hunter was born on June 2, 1938, in Los Angeles. Weighing only two pounds at birth and not expected to survive, his resourceful mother Wanda kept him warm the only way she could, in a shoebox in the family oven. As he grew, he graduated to a dresser drawer.
His mother relocated the family during the war to live with the whole extended family under one roof at grandmother’s house in Salt Lake City. Growing up there he became very close with all of his cousins, especially Jim Sorenson and Don Goldberg whom he regarded as brothers.
As a military brat, Ted saw much of the world by high school, and had attended 17 different schools before he enlisted in the US Air Force at 17. The Air Force provided Ted not only a job, but a home. Ted was a jet mechanic and crew chief for an F-104 Starfighter, which was not allowed take-off without his thumbs up. Ted served under MSGT Shirley Oliver Blanchard, who was the first positive father figure in his life. After a job well done, Blanchard would tell Ted, “Hunter, we’re gonna get you a raise!” A phrase which Ted enjoyed repeating the rest of his life. Although he enjoyed his time in the service, he left the Air Force in 1960.
Ted then learned auto body repair and painting in Southern California. He had a gift, and could perfectly match paint colors by eye. After years of living in “the jungle” of Los Angeles, Ted decided to move his young family out of the smog, to a place where his children could see the stars at night, the beautiful Central Coast.
In 1978, Ted opened his own auto body shop in Paso Robles, Hunter Auto Body. After the unexpected death of his brother Ray in 1985, Ted decided life was too short and retired in 1987.
Besides being a chronic jokester, Ted loved his one-liners and enjoyed inventing silly gadgets to entertain anyone in his path. Ted was a tremendous inventor, tinkerer; a classic absent-minded professor. He held over a dozen patents. He loved early Sunday morning at the San Luis Obispo swap meet (“Church”), yard sales, Johnny Cash, Chinese buffets, children, and animals. Ted took fashion cues from no one. He collected all kinds of hats, often using them as conversation starters.
He was independent and always on the go. He once had to fast track a passport because he decided he wanted to see China. In the last few years, Ted’s memory loss was getting the best of him, though he was a model of strong will and determination right up to the end.
Ted is survived by his children Tammy, Tina, and Todd, and grandchildren Marley, Maddie, Logan, Tillman and Tali. He will be sorely missed by his sister-in-law, Lucy Cleary, and his nephews and nieces Damen, Emy, Candy and Nicole.
Ted was preceded in death by his brothers, Lonnie and Ray West, and his wife of 43 years Jeri Hunter.
Our family would like to extend our most sincere appreciation to all of Ted’s friends who supported and visited him, and special thanks to the staff at Creston Village for the amazing care and kindness given to Dad (aka Teddy Bear).
Friends and family are cordially invited to F. McLintocks Saloon in Paso Robles on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. to share their best memories, and for a final toast in Ted’s honor, an IPA of course.
Interment with military honors will be held in Riverside National Cemetery where he will be laid to rest with his cousins Jim and Don, and MSGT Blanchard.
Happy trails TK.