Bert Field Shirley Hunter was born on April 22, 1924, in the small Fairview Community just outside of Sparkman, Arkansas. He was the 6th child of nine children of William Blaine Floyd Hunter and Georgia Turner Hunter. His mother knew right away that he was a gifted child and would one day be a great husband, father, provider and friend.He joined Center Point A.M.E. Church at an early age. Bert loved school and excelled as a student and athlete. He attended Center Point School and the Sparkman Training School where he ran track and was a member of the Glee Club. Upon completing his requirements at Sparkman, he transferred to Peake High School in Arkadelphia where he played football. He later transferred and graduated from Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan in May 1945; later that year in September he enrolled into Muskegon Junior College with plans of attending medical school and becoming a doctor. He and his mother had high hopes for his journey into the medical profession, but those hopes were dashed due to the sudden illness and untimely death of his mother in December 1945.Bert, out of an obedient spirit made the decision to return to Fairview to help his father, who had so graciously supported him in all of his studies and endeavors. It was at this time, he met the love of his life, Mae Louis Reed. They courted; and on August 29, 1946 they married and began a rich life together. Their union produced eight children. They were married for 66 years until her passing on February 17, 2013.
As a young family Bert found it to be challenging in raising a family and supporting his father on a meager salary of 50 cents a day. In February 1948, seeking for better opportunities he packed up Mae, baby Bertha, his dad and moved west to Sloupe, California. Although his stay was brief he soon realized that the grass is not always “greener on the other side”. He returned to Fairview in November and continued to work on the farm. He supported his father until his passing in 1962. In February 1952, he was hired by Reynolds Metal Company in Jones Mills, Arkansas and things started to change. He went from making 50 cents a day to about $15 per day. He often recalled how he and Mae had to sit down and figure out what to do with all that money. Bert invested in his education and enrolled in the National Radio Institute in 1952 and studied at night until he completed his certification in 1954. At that point he became the first and only black to own a business; a Radio and TV Repair Shop in the Sparkman area. His reputation for proficient, timely and honest work was widely known throughout the surrounding cities.
Bert’s thirst for knowledge and the desire to do more and have more continued on in 1975 when he enrolled at Ouachita Technical College where he earned his certification as a residential electrician. Most of the homes in Sparkman were wired by Bert, as well as, plumbing. He was no stranger to hard work and taught his children that nothing in life is free; hard work pays off. In addition to being a hard worker, Bert was a family man. He enjoyed the simple pleasures that life offered. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, playing dominoes and Chinese checkers. His passion was reading and music. He regularly read Poplar Science, the Bible, and Sunday school lessons. Bert was a lifelong member of Center Point A.M.E. Church and served dutifully as head Steward, Superintendent of Sunday School, and church pianist. He was a guitar player with the Sun Set Travelers quartet group for several years. He passed that talent to James “Plug” and Cleophus; teaching them the art of playing the guitar. He supported all of his children through their education and made many sacrifices to ensure that they were well educated. Bert’s well-lived and long-lived life will be cherished by his seven adored children, Bertha (Henry) Wheeler of St. Louis, MO, Ezzard (Carolyn) Hunter of Arkadelphia, AR, Carolyn Hunter of Sparkman, AR, Rev. Cleophus (Michelle) Hunter of Helena, AR, Glenda (Bishop Junius) Williams of Arkadelphia, AR, Gwendolyn (Rev. Donnie) Tank of Sparkman, AR, and Gerraind (Felisha) Hunter of Little Rock, AR; his devoted daughter-in-law, Cathy Hunter, the wife of James C. “Plug” Hunter who made his transition on August 29, 2012; twenty-two grandchildren, twenty-seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Bert’s life was simple, but not empty and on Thursday, June 16, 2016 he passed into the Lord’s embrace. He also leaves two sisters, Rebecca Perry of Milwaukee, WI and Daisy Lee Hamilton of Quincy, CA; his sister-in-law; Lottie Mae Wyatt of Kansas City, MO; a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives; a string of friends, his best friend Columbus Butler and the entire Center Point AME Church family. A celebration of his life will be held at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Arkadelphia on Sunday, June 26, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Presiding Elder Randolph Martin, Sr., will serve as the celebrant. Interment will be at Center Point Cemetery in Sparkman, Arkansas. Public viewing will be at the funeral home on Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 12 noon until 4:00 p.m. The family will receive friends at St. Paul AME Church from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m