In 2004, Emory & Henry College’s Board of Trustees voted to rename the archives room of the College and the Holston Conference as The Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. Library and Research Room. They did so to honor a man who has meant a great deal to the College, the United Methodist Church, and to American Christianity.
Born on 14 September 1918, Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee, and attended local schools there. He entered East Tennessee State University in 1937, and graduated with a triple major and as class valedictorian in 1941. Later that same year he entered the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he received a bachelor of divinity degree.
Upon entering the Holston Conference he ministered at churches in Kingsport, Chattanooga, and Morristown. In 1956, just shy of his thirty-eighth birthday, the Holston Conference elevated him to the presidency of Emory & Henry College. During his tenure, which he described as “the eight most precious years of . . . ministry,” he oversaw a marked increase in enrollment. Under his leadership the college’s physical plant expanded with the additions of Wiley-Jackson Hall (women’s dormitory) Hillman Hall (men’s dormitory), Van Dyke Student Union, and Memorial Chapel. All these additions were then valued at approximately $2,750,000. He also negotiated and received the Frederick T. Kelly estate for the college, which made it possible to build a new library and president’s home. The Bays Blackwell Lectureship and the Richard Joshua Reynolds Lectureship were inaugurated during his presidency. He also oversaw the racial integration of Emory & Henry College.
In 1964 the Methodist Church elevated him to the episcopacy, and for the next twenty-four years he served his church as a bishop in the Western North Carolina Conference (twelve years), the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences (four years), and the Florida Conference (eight years). He also served the United Methodist Church as president of its Council of Bishops, as president of its General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and as president of the Foundation for Evangelism. In addition, he has served on the board of trustees for Bethune-Cookman College and Emory University.
In the winter of 2000, Bishop Hunt donated his personal library of nearly 2,400 books to Emory & Henry College. It is a collection rich in homiletics, pastoral counseling, theology, Methodist history, and biography. Books meant a great deal to him, and it was his wish that future generations might be able to use the collection by keeping it at Emory & Henry.
In making plans for their 50th reunion in 2007, members of E&H’s Class of 1957 decided to honor their former president by raising money to renovate the newly-named Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. Library and Research Room. They established a goal to raise $50,000 for the project. They ultimately surpassed the goal and collected over $56,000, which paid for new furniture, window treatments, lighting, flooring, a new ceiling, repainting, and refurbishment of shelving. The grand unveiling of the room took place on E&H’s Homecoming in October 2007, where many members of the Class of 1957, along with family and friends of Bishop Hunt, attended.
Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr. died on 26 March 2005. He left behind a loving wife, son, and daughter-in-law, along with many close friends in Holston Conference, Western North Carolina Conference, Tennessee Conference, Florida Conference, and Emory & Henry College, to cherish his memory. Click here to read his obituary as it appeared in the spring 2005 Emory & Henry College Alumni Magazine.
Publications by and about Bishop Earl Gladstone Hunt Jr.
Pictures of Hunt during his E&H years.
Pictures of the Hunt Library Dedication, October 5, 2007
Hobie Cawood addressing members of the class of 1957 and friends
in the newly dedicated Hunt Library and Research Room
Bill Bennett (pictured in center with arms folded), co-chair of the
fundraising committee, preparing to officially hand over the room to
E&H President Reichard
Group shot of the members of the class of 1957 and friends
The plaque that hangs in the Hunt Room