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RIP Al Hunt, ex-Lompoc, CA, Record SE

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mpcincal, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. mpcincal

    mpcincal Well-Known Member

    I post this realizing at least 95 percent of the people on this board have never heard of Al, but he had been covering local sports in northern Santa Barbara County for about 30 years, more than 20 of them as sports editor for my hometown (used-to-be) daily, the Lompoc Record.


    He was an avid runner, active in the community and was one of many across the country and over the years who chose to work at a small town paper and became darn near an institution there.

    He was also the man who gave me my first job in this business when he was with the Record, giving a shot to a 20-year-old junior college student who had just a year and a half of journalism class/school paper experience under his belt. Like many in his position, he was a down-to-earth, pleasant, funny guy to work and hang out with. And a guy who now is making me deeply regret my failure to stay in touch over the past few years despite the fact we lived in the same city.

    I just thought he deserved a mention on a site called sportsjournalists.com
  2. mpcincal

    mpcincal Well-Known Member

    Also, since leaving the Record, Al had been a freelancer with the Santa Barbara News-Press. Their sports editor wrote a nice column on him this morning. (I copied it here since the News-Press has a paywall):

    Saying goodbye to Al Hunt

    Eddie Harbour
    June 1, 2012 6:25 AM

    There was something comforting about Al Hunt's "Thursday afternoon column calls."

    His slight drawl. A smile you could hear on the other end of the phone. He'd check in to make sure his Lompoc/North County Notebook had arrived on our end so that he could move on to the myriad other endeavors that occupied his calendar.

    Only I didn't get that call this week. Instead, we were told that Al passed away after a brief hospital stay at the age of 65 on Thursday.

    My staff and I - all of whom knew Al much longer than I did - have been in a stupor ever since.

    For nearly three decades, Alan Hunt has been a mainstay in the Santa Barbara County sports community and his passing leaves an irreplaceable void in the hearts and minds of not just the News-Press family, but across the Central Coast.

    "He was a kind and gentle person with me personally, but always very professional," said former Lompoc High coach and administrator Dick Barrett. "He was just a down-to-earth, folksy type of guy."

    Al was the sports editor at the Lompoc Record when he first met Barrett back in 1986 after he had been hired as the Braves football coach.

    A few years later, Lompoc trotted out a running back by the name of Napoleon Kaufman and rode him to some of the best seasons the county has ever seen.

    "And Al was there riding shotgun for all of it," Barrett told me Thursday. "I always made sure I read his columns. He's gonna be dearly missed.

    "I've got a lot of old articles and a lot of it is Al Hunt stuff."

    And I'm sure he's not alone in that. For nearly 30 years Al was the go-to-guy for Lompoc Valley athletics. And sure his wife Janis works at Lompoc High, but he covered Cabrillo High with the same aplomb as he did the Braves. He started writing for the News-Press back in 2005.

    "I was speaking with (Lompoc football coach) Andrew Jones tonight and we talked about how Al was always such a positive voice and interested in our kids no matter the sport," Lompoc athletic director Don Cross said. "He'll be missed in many ways. He'll be a hard person to replace."

    And that's the rub.

    You can't. We can't. I can't.

    They just don't make 'em like Al Hunt anymore.

    It's tough to find people willing to give of their time, and Al did plenty of that.

    He volunteered as a docent at La Purisima Mission. He volunteered at area track and swim meets. He served as the director for countless races and was the president of the Lompoc Valley Distance Club.

    And he was a sports writer. A job no one takes for its lucrative career path, but, more often than not, because of a passion for athletics and people.

    But beyond that, Al was generous - to me - with his knowledge and experience. As I write this, I feel like it's something that I didn't take enough advantage of.
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