Trudy was born on November 3rd, 1930, and grew up as a part of large extended French-Canadian family that was based in Van Buren, Maine, just over the border from New Brunswick. She spoke both French and English. Her father had 13 siblings, and her mother 11, and both of the families had lived on farms. By one count Trudy had 720 relatives including 156 first cousins.
Trudy’s immediate family however was small; she had just one sibling, a sister Pat who was born ten years after Trudy. Her mother was injured when she was hit by a car, and as result bringing babies to term was difficult for her, and so she suffered multiple miscarriages. Hence, Trudy and her sister were cherished all the more.
Job opportunities were in short supply in northern Maine, and so in 1947, following Trudy’s graduation from high school her family moved to Ithaca, New York so that her father could find employment in the construction field. Trudy found work first as a stenographer at the Gas and Electric Company, and afterwards in a Department store. It was there in Ithaca in 1949 that the 18 year old Trudy met Dick on a blind date set up by her friend Jean Moore. The 20 year old Dick was a college sophomore at Cornell and had grown up in Ithaca having served his country for 18 months as a sergeant in the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II.
Trudy and Dick took to each other right from the start. Their first several dates were full of romance and enchantment as the young lovers explored together the various swimming spots in the Ithaca area.
Needing to take a foreign language in college, Trudy persuaded Dick to forgo the German he’d studied in high school to sign up instead for French, with the idea that she would be his tutor. As the story goes, Trudy came close to getting Dick flunked — her French Canadian dialect was not pleasing to the professor who had been raised in France.
Trudy had been raised Roman Catholic, and Dick had found a place for himself by way of a youth group in a Methodist Church in Ithaca. During their courtship they would go back and forth between the Catholic and Methodist Churches.
On Christmas Eve, after attending church together, Dick proposed to Trudy, giving her a Christmas card with a ring taped inside. Happily, Trudy said yes.
The wedding was held six months later on June 17, 1950 in a Roman Catholic Church in Ithaca, followed by a honeymoon in Atlantic City.
The newlyweds lived in an apartment while Dick finished college. Trudy continued to work at the Department story until Diane was born in June of 1951. Following Dick’s graduation in 1952, he took a job with Prudential Insurance in Newark, New Jersey, and the young family moved to an apartment on the third floor of a house in Upper Montclair.
Dave was born in 1953, and so in need of more space, the growing family bought a house in Old Bridge in January of 1954. With a mortgage to meet and high taxes to pay, Trudy took care of things on the home front while Dick took a second and at times a third job to pay the bills until promotions at Prudential eased the financial pressure. To help bring in money Trudy used the seamstress skills she had learned from her mother growing up, specializing in making “odd-fitting sizes” of clothing on request, and at certain points, teaching seamstress classes. Trudy’s parents followed them to New Jersey, and at one point owned a fabric shop where Trudy got the material with which she sewed.
Dan was born in 1958 followed by Doug in 1960. Finally in 1963 Dale, the last of the five Ds, arrived on the scene. The family became active at the SimpsonMethodistChurch.
In 1964, cramped for space, the family of seven moved just two miles to a larger house in East Brunswick which allowed them to continue their involvement at the Church. The Hunt family lived happily there for the next 18 years forming many special friendships. When their kids got involved in scouting, both Trudy and Dick did their part to support them.
Trudy made incredible Halloween costumes for her children; she was always so creative. For instance, she threw a Hobo birthday party for Dan when he turned 5.
1968 marked the one and only year all five of the Hunt kids were in school at the same time: Dale entered kindergarten while Diane began her senior year of high school.
It was a happy family life that Trudy and Dick provided together for their kids. Their home was a safe haven for the children, as well as for cats, a place where laughter came easily, and where strong values to live by were nurtured; things like: honesty, generosity, hard work, commitment to family, loyalty, kindness, faith in God, as well as the capacity to laugh easily at oneself.
Trudy was the one who kept things on track in the home, making sure dinner was on the table every evening at 6:30 p.m. At the beginning the meals were characterized by a clear separation between meat and vegetables, because Dick didn’t like his food to touch, but over time he came to appreciate shepherd pies and various casseroles. For the children there was always the mandatory “no thank you helping” of vegetables.
Many happy memories were formed as the family enjoyed crabbing expeditions, trips to the Ice Cream shop, and annual trips for brunch at the Lobster shanty in Point Pleasant. Summertime included trips to drive-in movie theaters and as well as to local carnivals. There were day trips to HersheyPark and the Land of Make Believe. And there were longer trips as well with the car packed like sardines for long drives to Ithaca or Maine or Delaware to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Christmas is remembered as a particularly happy time for the Hunt family, with great care taken with putting up the decorations. Trudy would find craft projects in the family circle, some successful, some not – like the ornaments she made out of plastic tumblers melted into various shapes in the oven.
Weeks before Christmas Trudy would make hundreds of Christmas cookies from at least a dozen different recipes that were passed down to her through her family. The cookies would be packed away in tins and stored in the cold attic. Dale remembers routinely faking sickness in early December so she could stay home with her mother to share in the making of those cookies.
On Christmas Eve a neighbor would appear at the door dressed as Santa Claus to pass out one gift per child. The family would go together to the midnight candlelight service. When they got home the kids would go to bed, but Trudy and Dick would get to work assembling and wrapping the gifts that would appear under the tree in the morning.
And then there was this striking Hunt family tradition: The classic, 1951 version of Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol”, staring Alistair Sim as Scrooge would be shown on WOR TV at some odd hour in the middle of the night, and the movie and its message was so cherished by Trudy and Dick that they would awaken their children to come down and watch it, which meant extra work for them hiding the presents. When the movie was over the kids would go back to bed while Trudy and Dick finished their work. Finally at the end of the night they’d get a couple of hours of sleep. Strict instructions were given that no one would waken them, nor descend downstairs until 8 a.m. Dave would stand guard to keep his siblings from being tempted to wander on a bathroom trip.
Trudy was a great cook. For Christmas dinner Trudy would prepare her incomparable meat pies that included beef, veal and pork. At Thanksgiving she would arise at 5 in the morning to begin the marathon of cooking.
Trudy always had a camera on hand to capture the memories. At Easter she’d have new clothes she had made for her children to wear, and fully attired, they would be marched out to the dogwood tree for the mandatory Easter photograph of their kids dressed to the T.
As her kids grew older, Trudy embraced opportunities to edge her way back into the work world. She sold fuller brush, and worked for a time as a church secretary. She did some work in a drug and alcohol rehab clinic. In 1972 she and Dick succeeded in quitting smoking with the help of a program called Smoke Enders, which led in turn to the employment in which Trudy would find her greatest satisfaction working for the company. She started out as a record keeper, but before long Trudy was serving as a trainer, putting on ten week courses for companies all over the state of New Jersey.
In 1982, following Dale’s graduation from high school, Dick, Trudy and Dale moved to WestlakeVillage outside of Los Angeles in California when Dick was transferred there for a short term assignment with Prudential.
After 18 months the family moved back to New Jersey so that Dick could work out of Prudential’s corporate headquarters in Roseland. During this time of transition, while living out of an efficiency apartment nearby on Rt. 46, Dick and Trudy were charmed by the warm love as well as good hearted fun and laughter they found in the people of the ParsippanyUnitedMethodistChurch. When they moved into their new home in Morristown, they checked out the closer Methodist Churches, but no church they visited compared with what they had experienced in Parsippany, and so to our great good fortune, they made Parsippany their church home.
After only 18 months in Morristown, however, Dick’s job required yet another move back to California, where they lived in a lovely house on the side of a hill in Agura Hills. Dan remembers visiting his parents out there, and when they asked him if there was anything he’d like to see while he was out there, he mentioned, “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, and his parents managed to get tickets for a show.
In 1989 Dick retired from Prudential. Dick and Trudy moved back east to a house they had previously had built in the Poconos. In 1991 they sold the house in the Poconos and moved back to the house they owned in Morristown, now vacated by the tenants. At about the same time they bought a house in Sun City West, Arizona, and began a pattern of yearly migration, spending January through May in the warm sunlight of the southwest, and the remainder of the year among old friends here in New Jersey.
The long drives Trudy and Dick made between New Jersey and Arizona became a time to explore the sights of our country. They developed a fascination with the presidential libraries and museums scattered across the land, managing to visit the majority of these sites in the course of their travels. A visit to the Grand Canyon for an Easter Sunrise service was especially moving to them.
Trudy and Dick were simply a wonderful couple who knew how to have fun; a team who together shared a great deal of love with their family, and with all the friends they made in church and elsewhere.
Together they faced the challenges of Dick’s battles with cancer, first with melanoma in 1993, and then later when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1999. With Trudy’s support, and the gift of laughter and faith, Dick outlived the prognosis of the doctors, living the precious time they were given together with gratitude, appreciating the things that truly mattered. A couple of the memories that stand out from these years include the Christmas celebrated in 1996 with the family gathered together at an in in Stoudsmoor, Pennsylvania, and the wonderful surprise 50th wedding anniversary the children threw for their parents aboard a cruise ship floating around Manhattan. My wife, son Andrew and I were privileged to be guests at that very happy celebration.
After Dick died, it was hard for Trudy to live without her beloved, life partner at her side. She soldiered on with determination, making it to church, participating in prayer groups and a writing group, and the activities of the United Methodist Church. When she could no longer drive herself Tim Tyler and Jack Walsh would take turns driving to Basking Ridge to pick her up. Trudy thrived on human connection, and as her body, and then her mind began to deteriorate it became harder and harder for her to make the connections that were so vital to her spirit. Life became inherently frustrating for her.
As her family, you were there for her every step of the way, loving her even when she could no longer recognize you.
And so this past Wednesday the struggle came to an end. You gathered at her bedside. A gentle angel from Ghana was given to you to serve as midwife as Trudy was birthed into eternal life. You sang all five verses of Amazing Grace, and the sweet, patient aid from Ghana said a beautiful prayer.
The angel from Ghana said to Dale, “When our mothers die, they takes all our illnesses with them.” And I’m sure it’s true that Trudy is now doing all she can to intercede on your behalf.