Michael Hunt

Obituary of Michael Houston Hunt

On 12 April, after a rich and productive life and in the loving presence of his family, Michael H. Hunt passed away suddenly at UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, from complications of leukemia.


Michael.  Born in Texas and captured in an old photograph as an inquisitive little "cowboy" with an infectious grin and penetrating blue eyes, he grew up to discover a world that was vast and intriguing and, over an entire lifetime, to explore that world's many intricacies and to open wide his arms to all it had to teach him.


Starting when he was a child and then well into his later years, Michael spent long periods of time living and traveling overseas (Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, Italy, Iran, China).  That was one form of education.  The other was his formal training -- a BSFS ('65) from Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service and an M.A. ('67) and a Ph.D. ('71) in history from Yale University.  At Yale, under the guidance of Mary Wright, he developed his interest in China, the springboard for his early work on Chinese-American relations.  His later work came to focus on Chinese foreign relations, on U.S. foreign policy, and, most recently, on contemporary global history.


Michael taught at Yale and Colgate before moving in 1980 to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was subsequently honored with the title of Everett H. Emerson Professor of History.  During his distinguished career he authored or co-authored eleven published books (two of them prize-winning), several as yet unpublished manuscripts, and many articles; mentored and befriended numerous students; and frequently engaged in both professional and community outreach.  Nationally he was a past president of SHAFR; at UNC he served at various times as history department chair and director of graduate studies.    


Michael:  Ground-breaking scholar; mentor; deeply devoted husband, father, brother, and cousin; loyal friend.  Swimmer, hiker, soccer enthusiast.  Seeker of social justice.  Lover of music and of nature; of mysteries; of fires in the hearth, blazing against the chill.  A man of integrity, reason, and wit.


Preceded in death by his parents, Col. Wheeler H. Hunt and Phyllis S. Hunt, Michael is survived by his spouse, Paula S. Hunt of Chapel Hill, NC; his adored daughters, Heather Hunt (Effie) of Carrboro, NC, and Daniella Hunt of Rome, Italy; dear sisters Suzanne Matheson (Bill) of Denver, CO, and Patricia Johnstone of San Antonio, TX; and close cousins Lee Hunt (Marilyn), Elise Garnica (Mario), and Alan Hunt.


A memorial service will be held at a later date.


If desired, memorial donations may be made to to the Michael H. Hunt Memorial Fund at SHAFR, www,shafr.org/donate, the American Italian Cancer Foundation, to UNICEF USA, or to any charitable organization of the donor's choice. 



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