BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Oliver Hunt, August 23, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Interview with Oliver Hunt, August 23, 2007
August 23, 2007
Interview with Dr. Oliver R. Hunt in which he shares professional and personal details, including his experience as a WWII veteran and assisting at the first open-heart surgery performed at the Mayo clinic.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Hunt, Oliver Interviewer: Jones, Carroll / Parnell, Jerry Date of Interview: 8/23/2007 Series: SENC Health Services Length 100 minutes

Jones: Today is Thursday, August 23, 2007. I'm Carroll Jones with Jerry Parnell for the Randall Library Special Collections Oral History Program, and our special guest this morning is Dr. Oliver R. Hunt, a Wilmington resident since 1969?

Hunt: Correct.

Jones: Good. Dr. Hunt is a World War II veteran who saw action in the Pacific in mine warfare service, a former minesweeper CO and survivor of a sinking while under fire. He went on to become a Mayo Clinic fellow, heart surgeon, and witnessed the very first open heart surgery performed at Mayo Clinic.

Hunt: Right. That's correct.

Jones: Welcome, Dr. Hunt, and thank you for your service. Let's start learning a little bit about who you are and tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up. It doesn't have to be in depth unless there's something really interesting and we'll go on from there before you're going in to the service.

Hunt: Okay. Well, I was born in Darlington, South Carolina, and spent a number of years there before we moved to Bishopville, South Carolina, and I consider myself an unresigned or unreserved Confederate. (laughs)

Jones: Do you know John Burney?

Hunt: I tell people that I was 17 years old before I knew damn Yankee was two words. That's how much a Confederate I was. I know the history of Robert E. Lee and has visited his memory area in Virginia. I've seen the stuffed statue of his horse that he had and I've visited most of the battlegrounds of the army of northern Virginia. So I'm an unreformed Confederate. (laughs)

Jones: Who ended up north in school.

Hunt: (laughs) Right, (laughs) who ended up in Yankee lands, (laughs) both New York and Michigan and-- yeah, in New York and Michigan.

Jones: Well where did you go from there? Where did you first go to college?

Hunt: To Berea College in Berea, Kentucky and, due to the good fortune of having a wonderful mother who was determined to see that her four children received a college education, she went to the principal of the school, Cool Springs High School in Forest City, where I finished high school and asked him how I could become a college student. And she told him about Berea and I don't know whether or not you know Berea and what it does, but it seeks out what it considers to be intelligent, bright and ambitious people and allows them to work and pay in full their expenses, the expenses of a college education, and that's what I did. I worked first in a grocery store. I made so many mistakes adding up the customers' bills that they fired me. I went to work then in a machine shop and that was a wonderful experience. I learned how to run the lathe, how to run other machinery like drill presses. I learned to weld, do acetylene welding and the electric arc welding and could do that. As a matter of fact, I built the German professor there-- I took German as a language course-- and I built him a band saw. He was interested in woodworking and he wanted a band saw. I built one in the machine shop for him and gave it to him, and then from Berea where I earned my AB degree and graduated after my service in the war in--

Jones: You went back to Berea after you got out of the navy.

Hunt: That's correct and graduated in 1947. I was originally in the class of '44 but the war intervened and I borrowed my future wife's father's automobile and I drove to Lexington, Kentucky, and I enlisted in the navy and the navy sent me back to Berea for two semesters as a V-12 student and I've got an extra year of college there. Then they sent me to the midshipman school at Columbia University and I went through midshipman school and graduated and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy. From there I went to the naval mine warfare in Yorktown, Virginia, and spent the required time there to learn about minesweeping and mines in general. I learned about magnetic mines, contact mines and acoustic mines and I found out a very interesting thing. The Germans for example had made a portrait, a magnetic portrait of the magnetic fields of every ship that entered their port and left. And they knew precisely how to set the magnetic code in their mines that would blow up a given ship based on the magnetic signature of that particular ship, and that was extremely interesting. Now the Japanese did not have acoustic mines, they did not have magnetic mines and they had only contact mines, and the way a contact mine works, it's filled with 500 pounds of TNT and it's a sphere and it has horns sticking out on that sphere. The horns are a relatively soft metal and inside this is- inside the metal is a glass bottle lining. In that are two different metals and hydrochloric acid and when that glass is broken the hydrochloric acid leaks out into the rest of the thing. It touches those two metals and that makes a battery that fires the mine, and that's what the Japanese had, the contact mines with that design. And that's what we swept in the every invasion that occurred in the Philippines, and I was not on the ship for all of those invasions but many of them. Yes.

Jones: Can I interrupt you a moment and ask you a question?

Hunt: Mm-hmm.

Jones: Knowing this, did you, all of you in the mine service, have enough information to go in and advance to do your minesweeping?

Hunt: That's exactly what we did, yes.

Jones: So you were among the first.

Hunt: That's right.

Jones: Therefore, you were also among the first to possibly get hit and shelled.

Hunt: Well, that's correct. We were subject by and large to large arms and cannon fire while we were sweeping as a rule.

Jones: Did you have any cover from other ships or planes?

Hunt: From time to time we did but not always, and they always-- most of the time preceded in an invasion by shelling the beaches and the territory beyond, which was to make it safer for those people who were going to actually land on the beach. Now on one occasion with the invasion of Legazpi, which is on the east coast of Luzon, the commanding officer of our ship detached me and put me on an LCVP. This is a landing craft personnel and we rigged that with size five sweep gear and we could get in very close to the coast with that, and we swept a path in and out, back and forth, for the landing ships and other invasive vessels to come in without the danger of hitting a contact mine.

Jones: Was there any way to mark those avenues that had been swept with dye or something?

Hunt: Yes. Yes. No, they weren't marked with dye. They were marked on a chart and given a path for landing ships that had to go in and beach themselves and roll the tanks out and then roll the people out and so on. So no, they-- that's the way they did things--

Jones: So you went to this special school and then you received an assignment and that was on the West Coast?

Hunt: The first assignment I had was a gunnery school after my school at the naval mine warfare school was to a gunnery school in San Francisco, and there I learned about cannons, learned about 20-millimeter guns, 50 millimeter, and we learned about machine guns and so on. And of course the minesweeper that I was on had a three-inch 50-caliber gun and we learned about those particularly, and after the instruction in gunnery school and so on I was then assigned to what's called a YMS, a yacht minesweeper.

Jones: What was a yacht minesweeper?

Hunt: Well, it was a wooden craft that was about, as I'm-- my memory served me, somewhere around 100 feet long and it was beautifully built and it made me so hungry for a yacht that I couldn't stand it. It was absolutely wonderful and I thought maybe I might get a surplus one after the war and then have my own personal yacht, but that didn't come about. I settled for a sailboat. (laughs) Anyway, for that period in San Francisco we swept the channel every single day. We swept from the Golden Gate Bridge out to a group of islands called the Farallons and we swept the right side on the way out and we turned around and came in again and swept the left side. And we never encountered or swept a Japanese mine in the channel but we made the channel safe for those ships that had to go out and come in to the San Francisco Bay, and that was an enjoyable time.

Jones: I can imagine.

Hunt: (laughs) And I learned a lot and I enjoyed the trips and I enjoyed San Francisco.

Jones: And you had a lot to write to home to Mama about I'm sure.

Hunt: Well, (laughs) Mom was always a bit doubtful about being shot at (laughs) but she was a good sport.

Jones: Were you assigned a ship from there or a minesweeper from there when you deployed to the South Pacific?

Hunt: Yes. Uh-huh. I was assigned to a ship named the USS Salute and it was 180 foot and there is a picture--

Jones: This is the salute?

Hunt: Yes.

Jones: It's 180 feet long.

Hunt: A hundred and eighty feet long.

Jones: This is a picture of you as a brand-new ensign--

Hunt: That's right. Uh-huh.

Jones: Okay.

Hunt: And the invasions that I remember the best are the invasion on the east coast of Luzon, which was at Legazpi, and then I remember Mindanao and about Mindanao I later read a very startling thing. First of all, we had a fleet in that area that was left over, warships, after the invasion of Mindanao, and a Japanese fleet came in and there were some Japanese ships going out and they passed and the guy going out never told a guy coming in what was down there to meet him. And they-- the guys coming in--

Jones: This is the Japanese--

Hunt: Japanese, yeah, and Japanese they came in and were blown to pieces by our fleet, badly defeated, and this is the location, Mindanao, where our commanding admiral sent out a destroyer to cruise and look for enemy ships and enemy activity or east and south of Mindanao. And we lost 30 ships, destroyers, in 30 days to kamikazes, and I told you one of the most interesting experiences that I had, an amazing experience, was off the island of Samar and-- which is on the east, the eastern coast. And this airplane appeared out of the northern sky, passed just below our ship. The Japanese pilot looked out, saw me on the deck. I was inspecting the depth charges. He saluted me and went down and dived into an LCI down-- that was anchored down the way.

Jones: You were on the deck of the ship and he passed you by.

Hunt: Right.

Jones: Amazing.

Hunt: But he-- those LCIs, those were landing infantry and tanks and they were huge compared to our thing, which is 180 feet in length, and--

Jones: Were you stunned with his salute?

Hunt: Yeah, I was. I've always remembered that and been completely amazed that a Japanese pilot on the way to killing himself and our ships would salute me as the last human being he saw before he died.

Jones: That's chilling in a way isn't it?

Hunt: (laughs)

Jones: Interesting. Where did you go from there? Tell us about being sunk and taking a swim in the ocean.

Hunt: All right. I'll tell you about that.

Jones: What ship were you on at that time?

Hunt: I was on the USS Salute.

Jones: This is the one, east of Luzon.

Hunt: Yeah. No. No. It was not east of Luzon then but we went down for the invasion of British North Borneo and the island of Borneo was owned-- that northern part was owned by the British and a port was there and they traded back and forth, but the southern part of the island of Borneo had oil wells on it. And the Japanese were using the port of Balikpapan or the city of Balikpapan with its oil wells to supply what oil they could get out of those wells there and send back to Japan for processing so that they could run their ships with it. And it was a great credit for them to keep its-- the navy active and going and the-- our invasion of British North Borneo was the start of re-conquest of the island of Borneo so that we could halt the use of those oil wells by the Japanese and prevent them from getting oil there. So the-- that's where our ship was sunk. We were five minesweepers that size and we followed in line and the reason we followed in line, and I'll draw you a little picture. These were contact mines and here is a ship here, a minesweeper, and he would let out a cable with a water kite. It worked like a regular kite but it was called a water kite, and these were serrated steel cables and the kite would keep them out like this and there was a cutter right at the end of it. This serrated cable would cut many of the cables and let the mines pop up but if they didn't and they got here the cutter on this-- on the water kite would cut the cable and the mine would pop up. Now the next ship would follow this course, you see, like this and we would be five ships in a row, and the only one that was in unswept water, water that had not been cleared of mines, was this lead ship. All the rest of us, and we were number four in this particular lineup, and the number three ahead of us cut a mine and usually they bring to bear a 20-millimeter gun or a 50-caliber machine gun or there are some of them that have riflemen out shooting at that mine and that blows the mine up, but this ship ahead of us cut a mine. And this mine was floating down upon us and in order to avoid the mine hitting us and blowing up and destroying our ship we made a 90-degree rapid turn to the left and that took us out in unswept water. Well, after the mine had been destroyed and we were out in here we turned around and went back to try to get in our assigned position as number four in the lineup, and by Jove we hit a mine and the mine blew that ship half in two with one exception and that was the quarter deck but otherwise it was cut half in two from the quarter deck on down. And the-- both ends would do like this and pretty soon we had about a six-foot obstruction right in the center of the ship that kept you from going from the back end to the front end or from the front end to the back end without a difficult climb and to get over that hump in the thing. And our pharmacist's mate enlisted me to make a round with him and we had morphine and Demerol and those men who were lying on the ship in pain from wounds we gave narcotics to in order to relieve their pain. And then we had the process of transferring them to another ship and I'll go into that. We no longer-- we no sooner got back in the water than two LCIs, landing craft, infantry, appeared, one on the right and one on the left, and then the cruiser Boise, which is a big thing, appeared off between us and the shore and guess who was on the Boise. We transferred all the wounded to the Boise and all those that had survived, and I can tell you that 80% of our crew, which equaled almost a hundred, were either wounded or killed.

Jones: Really?

Hunt: Yes, and for example nobody was supposed to be below decks-- below the deck except for the people in the engine room and those five people down there were killed instantly. Then I learned from one of our seamen that there were three people in the ship's office against the rules, and so I was assigned to go down and see what had happened to them. Well, I couldn't go without some kind of breathing apparatus so fortunately I'd done some diving and I put on a tank of oxygen and my mask and I went down to the ship's office. All three of those men were dead. One sitting in a chair had been blown up and hit the roof and his head was like a bunch of rocks when you moved it and just torn all to pieces, and two were dead and on top of file cabinets. They'd been blown and hit the ceiling and fallen on a file cabinet. Well, I got those three bodies out and they were transferred to the Boise and later were buried at sea, but all the wounded was transferred to the Boise and then finally they got to us that were able to move around and so forth. We--

Jones: There was just 20% of you then who were mobile.

Hunt: That's right, went to the Boise.

Parnell: You were not wounded then. Right?

Hunt: Yeah, I was. Yeah, I had-- I was blown into the air, much higher than this ceiling, and I came back down and while I was looking down I could see this partition between-- I was sitting on the-- when the explosion occurred I was sitting on the wing bridge here and I would have come down on a steel partition and broken my back for sure and I don't know how many organs in my abdomen would have been wounded, but I dived clear of that and I landed on this shoulder and the back part of my head and I had a gash here in this part of my back. So I was transferred to the Boise and treated there and the details are in that letter there that I gave you. That's why I got a Purple Heart. Anyway, we took-- we discovered that-- well, we knew this before, that General MacArthur was aboard the Boise and--

Jones: Was he coming from Luzon? What was he doing?

Hunt: Well, he was overseeing the invasion of British North Borneo and I want to tell you what that man did. He called the captain of the Boise and said, "I would like for you to send the gig to me." "Gig" is a word for the captain's motorboat that he uses to go from place to place and boat to boat and so on and it's available all the time for him. And the gig came alongside and General MacArthur got on that gig and it went-- carried him to the shore where the invasion was going on. All the large gunfire had ceased of course and they were preparing for the landing of troop personnel, and there was small arms fire coming out of the interior of the island to the beach and thing, but General MacArthur got on that beach and walked over 150 yards down the beach to look at the invasion and how it was going and turned around and walked. Then he stood as erect as a doggone statute and no dodging, no jumping, no-- a calm walk, very erect, and he came back- got on the gig and came back to the Boise. And then the Boise took General MacArthur and us to Manila and we had a couple of days there and got off to sea, and I'm not going to describe the most horrible thing that I saw but-- unless you think it would be appropriate.

Jones: I think that's your call.

Hunt: Well, it was a pregnant woman that had been slit open with a Japanese bayonet and her baby was lying out on the ground dead and she was dead of course, and I'm not going into the details of it but that--

Jones: I don't think that's necessary.

Hunt: Yeah. That's essentially what happened.

Jones: One of the horrors of war.

Hunt: Yeah. And then the Boise went back to San Francisco for an overhaul and it took those of us who were due 30-day survivor's leave to San Francisco and from there we went back to our homes, various homes.

Jones: Since this particular sinking of a ship was almost an accidental thing, it was an enemy mine but it was not, well I don't know how to describe it. Was that an unusual happenstance or did that happen--

Hunt: It was unusual but it did happen occasionally. That was unusual but--

Jones: That's the reason they lay mines.

Hunt: Right. No. The reason they lay mines is to catch those invasive ships, destroyers and other ships that accompany an invasion and shell the beach and shell the area beyond the beach. They have to get in at certain places pretty close and if they have mines there of course they can't do it without danger to them, and that's why they detached me from the Salute to go out on an LCVP and sweep that area with size five sweep gear all the way in to the beach until we almost ran aground--

Jones: This was an unusual thing with that mine exploding and--

Hunt: Yes.

Jones: You went back to San Francisco and you told us about taking command of your own minesweeper. Did that happen after this?

Hunt: I'm sorry, what's the question?

Jones: When did you take command of your own minesweeper?

Hunt: Oh. From San Francisco I took my 30 days' leave- survivor's leave and then I was ordered to Hawaii under the whims of commander of the western sea frontier, and by Jove I was asleep in the BOQ-- that's the bachelor officers' quarters-- and I spent about five weeks there not doing anything but getting up--

Jones: According to you.

Hunt: Wait just a minute. Getting up and exploring the island. I went over to the east coast and looked and went down to the beautiful mountain that's on the edge of the Hawaiian island there, the Oahu--

Jones: Baleo-- [ph?]

Hunt: Yeah, and I had a great time on the beach and so forth and I did some skin diving and enjoyed it very much, and then one morning I was in bed asleep in the BOQ and this horrible noise happened, and there was a troop of six soldiers that came in, marines that came in, stomping and saying, "Ensign Hunt, Ensign Hunt, Ensign Hunt." Well, boy, I got out of bed as you've never seen and hopped up and they say, "You get dressed and come with us," and they escorted me to the office of the commander of the western seafront here and I had to sit down and fill out what's called an officer's qualification jacket. Mine had been lost on the Salute when it went down and so I had to fill it out telling my experience, my training and so on and so forth, and then I waited for an assignment. And I was assigned as commanding officer of the USS Clamour which is a minesweeper that looked like this and it was undergoing an overhaul in Bremerton, Washington--

Jones: I thought that was a destroyer.

Hunt: No. That was--

Jones: The Clamour?

Hunt: The Clamour, a minesweeper, the same make as that, and after the-- I oversaw the overhaul that was part of it that was left and I was then ordered to take the Clamour to San Francisco- I mean-- sorry-- San Diego and I did that, sailed the ship down to San Diego and went in the port there and the Clamour was decommissioned and the war was over now. And I stayed there for the decommissioning to see that it was carried out and properly done and all that sort of thing, and then by Jove I was discharged. And my wife had met-- had come from Berea, Kentucky, to Bremerton and we rented an apartment and we saw each other more than we'd ever seen before.

Jones: I guess so. How do you spell Clamour?

Hunt: C-L-A-M-O-R-- M-O-U-R.

Jones: Okay, that's atypical. C-L-A-M-O-U-R?

Hunt: O-U-R, I believe, uh-huh.

Jones: That was an AM?

Hunt: Yes, it was an AM-180. And then after it was decommissioned I was discharged and went back to-- and finished my college education.

Jones: At Berea.

Hunt: At Berea, uh-huh, and graduated in 1947. I had--

Jones: When were you and your wife married?

Hunt: In 1944, December the 16th, 1944.

Jones: Did you meet her in Kentucky or was she a South Carolina girl.

Hunt: Oh, yes. She-- her father was former director of admissions for the college and he had an official position after that there and they lived in Berea and Eleanor lived in Berea with her brother and their sister and their grandmother lived across the street from them in a house that they bought for her and so on, and I met--

Jones: Would you spell correctly for me Berea?

Hunt: B-E-R-E-A, Berea. (laughs)

Jones: So for you-- you were discharged in 1946?

Hunt: Nineteen forty-three. No. It was '45.

Jones: You were discharged in '45?

Hunt: I was discharged after the sinking, which was June the 8th, 1945, and I was sent back-- no, I was sent back to the Clamour. And then after the Clamour was decommissioned I was discharged and I think that's still-- well, I don't remember. I'm sorry.

Jones: Was that in San Diego?

Hunt: Yes, in San Diego, and I went back to college and graduated. I had a year to go and that would make it '46 and I graduated in-- from Berea in '47.

Parnell: Were you given a promotion from an ensign to JG?

Hunt: I was a lieutenant JG, yes.

Jones: Do you have anything further you want to talk about having to do with your service in World War II? Because we're going to do this in two segments and go on with your after work experiences.

Hunt: Well, I think that was just a great experience and I've always valued it beginning with the experience at Columbia University, and I frankly forget who was the executive officer there but it was somebody who was well known and famous and so on. And I appreciated being in New York and I explored it and when I was over I particularly enjoyed the experience at Yorktown. There I became attached to sailing in a sailboat and I-- when we came to North Carolina I bought a sailboat, a 41-foot Choey Lee, and we had the greatest time sailing that thing.

Jones: That's a good size. Did you ever forgive the Yankees?

Hunt: Oh, well, sure. (laughs)

Jones: I'm joking now because you were a confirmed Confederate and got to explore New York--

Hunt: But I had strong feelings, but I had a strong feeling back then.

Jones: This is the decoration you were awarded, the Purple Heart, for being wounded when the ship sank.

Hunt: That's right.

Jones: And of course this is your bar for your uniform.

Hunt: And I was treated for those wounds on the crews of Boise and they did what stitching was necessary and what treatment was necessary to wash out the wound and try to prevent an infection and that sort of thing, yeah.

Jones: Going back to Berea College, your degree was an AB degree there.

Hunt: An AB degree in chemistry and--

Jones: That certainly is a good segue into medicine.

Hunt: And I was a minor-- I minored in physics and in mathematics.

Jones: Oh, what fun.

Hunt: Yeah, it was fun. I enjoyed it and I've kept up my interest in mathematics and physics. I have read all of Einstein's papers and writings and so forth and I'm just thrilled that I could at least understand what was going on and what he did and so forth.

Jones: You must be a very methodical person.

Hunt: Well, I wouldn't know about that but he's very bright and he did poorly in school at age six. He didn't realize that he was as brilliant as he turned out to be and he made use, good use of the information available from various fields that finally led him to come up with the theory of relativity.

Jones: Mr. Einstein?

Hunt: Mr. Einstein, yes.

Jones: The reason I said that you must be very methodical in enjoying that type of reading is I had a father who thought reading Marx handbooks and mathematics was great fun and I was one who hated math. My brother became an engineer. Thank you very much for telling us about this. That's quite interesting, the experiences you've had, and particularly in the way you can tell it and recall it. This will be a great help for our oral history project and we're going to come back to you again in a few minutes. Thank you.

Hunt: All right, fine.

[tape change]

Jones: This is Carroll Jones again with Jerry Parnell. We're still interviewing Dr. Oliver Hunt. This is part two, tape two. We're going to talk now about his after-World War II experiences. At this point, he is now married. He's graduated from Berea College in Kentucky. And we'll hear the rest from you, Dr., where do you want to start?

Hunt: Well, I graduated from Berea in 1947. And I had majored in chemistry and minored in physics and mathematics. And I've maintained my interest in those things all of this time. I made an application to go to medical school at the University of Louisville.

Jones: I gotta stop you. What peaked your interest, or were you always interested in medicine?

Hunt: No, I was not always interested. But I had a good friend from West Virginia. His name is Lloyd Dougherty, William Lloyd Dougherty. And he was convinced that he should follow a medical career, and he ended up going to University of Chicago for his M.D. degree. And I became interested based on the things he told me and the things I learned later on plus the fact that we had a family practitioner in Darlington that was very, very good and had taken care of me when I had an injury to my head. I still have this dent in my bones back here, where someone dropped a pole on me out of a tree and hit me in the head. And Dr. Edwards, in Darlington, took care of that. And I've always admired him, and he was very much admired by my parents. So with the experience with Dougherty, in college, he went to college with me, I became interested in medicine, made an application to the University of Louisville and was accepted. And I entered University of Louisville and spent four years there, graduated in 1951. So that means, when I graduated in '47, why, I graduated in June. In September, I entered medical school and, of course, followed it, after medical school, with an internship, in Lansing, Michigan, at the Edward W. Sparrow Hospital. And following that, I was offered a job by an internist who was considered to be one of the best internists in the whole state of Michigan. And I worked with him for a couple of years. He paid me. I did the history and the physicals and examinations in the office. And he, who is a former Mayo Clinic fellow, he thought I ought to go to the Mayo Clinic for my surgical training. So he talked with them up there, and I was finally admitted for training at the Mayo Clinic.

Jones: Was this in Rochester?

Hunt: Rochester, Minnesota, yes. As you point out, there are two other Mayo Clinics, one in Jacksonville, Florida and the other in Arizona. Now, anyway, I started my training in general surgery after my internship in Michigan and those years with this internist that I've talked about, and it was wonderful. Practice of medicine, at least in my observation, is no better anywhere. And while we were there, we had patients from France, patients from Germany, patients from Britain, from Latin America. You just couldn't see enough of them. And all of them, of course, were very rich people. They had to be in order to afford a trip up to Rochester to get treatment. But it was a wonderful, wonderful experience, and I have not seen the practice of medicine any better, anywhere. And I've seen it in Buffalo, New York. I've seen it in Chicago. I've seen it in the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. I've seen it in Houston with Mike Debaki and his crowd and so on.

Jones: Was he the one that you witnessed do an open-heart surgery? Debaki?

Hunt: No. The first open-heart surgery was done at the Mayo Clinic, and I was there for that and watched it. And I decided that was for me.

Jones: Do you recall who did that one?

Hunt: John Kirkland. John Kirkland spent several years beating on me as a fellow. He could be very abusive to his trainees and so forth. But I was his first assistant for a year and a half.

Jones: May I ask you this passing the very first open-heart surgery got a lot of attention. But still, as a student, or you were in training. At that time were you a fellow? Were you, at that time, an elevated student type of situation? Did you watch this up close? Was it an ampitheatre?

Hunt: I was his first assistant. Being that I was at the operating table.

Jones: You were right there.

Hunt: Yes.

Jones: All right. That's what I wanted to make clear.

Hunt: Yeah, mm-hmm, yeah, at the operating table. And I was his first assistant. I also was first assistant to the orthopedic surgeon there that invented the hip prosthesis and one that worked on the knee prosthesis, but I wasn't his first assistant. I just knew him and knew what he was doing. Anyway, I was fascinated by heart surgery from beginning. And as I say, I spent all that time as his first assistant and so on. Course, I trained in general surgery, first, for four years, before I got into cardiac, thoracic surgery. So I'm certified, board certified, in general, and I'm board certified in thoracic, cardiac surgery.

Jones: I'm sorry to interrupt you but I wanted to make that clear for everyone to understand. So how long were you there as a fellow?

Hunt: Six years, four years in general and two years in thoracic, cardiac, six years. And I was asked to stay three times, and I turned them down.

Jones: Why?

Hunt: Well, you're going to think this is very peculiar, but the winters for South Carolina, boy, it was horrible. It would get 30 degrees below zero and stay that way for two or three weeks. And it just drove me mad to try to get around, and it drove them mad too. For example, from the Mayo Clinic Building to the-- they had two buildings across the street from each other. They had a bridge that went from the second story of one to the second story of the other one. There was a tunnel from one of the buildings to the Methodist Hospital. There was a tunnel from the Mayo Clinic Building to the Medical Science Building. In the wintertime, you went through these tunnels to get places. And, course, some of the merchants downtown ran these clothing stores and what have you, had tunnels that joined that tunnel too.

Jones: I've seen that in both Minneapolis and in Montreal, an enclosed society.

Hunt: Well, it's for your own protection, because you'd freeze to death walking from one to the other.

Jones: So you opted out of Rochester-- I can't say I blame you there. And from there you went to? Where did you go from the Mayo Clinic then?

Hunt: Well, I fooled around. First, I should tell you that we had no resources whatsoever and that went back to college days. I worked my way through Berea, which is specially built for that, and paid all my expenses there. And they paid me a small sum. Mayo Clinic and a good friend, internist, that I worked for, in Lansing, sent us money every month. And that saw us through our time at the Mayo Clinic. I paid him back every cent, every cent that he sent to us. I treated it as a loan, paid him back after I got out, started working and had an income.

Jones: You decided not to stay in Rochester due to weather. We discussed that. Where did you go next? In 1958? Did you leave Minnesota in '58, or was it also in Minnesota where you did your thoracic surgery?

Hunt: I did my thoracic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, thoracic and cardiac. And when I became qualified, I needed to make some money quick in order for us to get along. We had four children at that time. And so what I did was take a job in a VA hospital in Oteen, North Carolina.

Jones: In where?

Hunt: Oteen.

Parnell: It's in the mountains.

Jones: Okay.

Hunt: And I worked there for, I think, a couple of years. Then I found a job in Montgomery, West Virginia, and I went up there with a very innovative fellow who had built a hospital and who owned it. And I worked for them for a while. And time slips my mind at the moment. But after that, I went to The State University of New York at Buffalo and was hired for a job there.

Jones: Well, that wasn't any better than Rochester.

Hunt: Well, it was.

Jones: Really?

Hunt: Yeah, the climate was much better. Now, it's true that they had a great deal of snow. But as far as the cold, it never got that cold.

Jones: I'll take your word for it.

Hunt: And the thing about Buffalo was the snow. But I licked that, and I'll tell you how. You'd go to bed at night. It'd be perfectly clear ground. You'd wake up in the morning, and it would be maybe half a foot or foot of snow. And a snowplow would come along and plow the road that you had to back out of your garage on. And I'd go down and start the car and warm it up, raise the door to the garage, put it in gear and back out of there as fast as I could get it going for that short-- I hit that bank of snow and explode it, knock it out of the way and end up in the street. Then I'd drive on to work.

Jones: Oh, my goodness.

Hunt: Anyway, while I was at Buffalo, I was made associate dean for clinical affairs at the medical school and I unified a training program in five affiliated hospitals. We had trainees in five different hospitals. I worked mostly at the Buffalo General with another fellow. He and I did open-heart surgery there. And I might tell you this, that, beside open-heart surgery, we had a guy across the street, in the veterans hospital, who invented the pacemaker. And Medtronic began to make the pacemakers in Minneapolis. And we put in the first 100 pacemakers that were put in in this country. George Schimert and I did.

Jones: That was in Buffalo.

Hunt: In Buffalo, yes, at the Buffalo General Hospital. And the people at Medtronic, who make the pacemakers, were so impressed that they invited George and I for a visit and paid our way. And then they showed us their factory, how they did it and so on and so forth. The biggest problem we had, at first, with the pacemakers, was the wires would break and we'd have to replace it. Then an innovation came along that leads down to the heart, like a spiral spring. And those didn't break. They would last for a long, long time. But, the wires themselves, which is first thing, put a wire down a vein into the heart and attach pacemaker to it, the beating and the bending of that wire broke it soon. So that was a difficult problem until the new wires came along. New leads, it was called.

Jones: Are pacemakers ever used now?

Hunt: Oh, yeah, I have one.

Jones: You have one?

Hunt: Mm-hmm, got one right here.

Jones: We hear about stents and all these other things, vein-type work. So that's why I asked the question.

Hunt: Well, I put in pacemakers, in Wilmington, at the hospital, New Hanover, and did it out of Cape Fear. The other thing I did that hadn't been done here, in this town, was carotid endarterectomies.

Jones: Is that a common thing?

Hunt: Well, was for me. I did about 300 of them.

Jones: The reason I ask is I read about this, and I've had several friends who have had this done.

Hunt: It's commonplace to get plaque where the artery divides. One goes to the face and so forth, the scalp. The other enters the skull and goes to the brain, and that's the dangerous one to get stopped up, you see. And then I don't know how many legs I've done. But you get plaques, hardening of the artery plaques, in here, in the thigh. And you get blueness and danger to the foot. The foot and leg become gangrenous. And what I did was to take the vein out of the leg, turn it around and sew it to the artery up here and sew it to the artery behind the knee and save the guy's foot and leg for him.

Jones: That's amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Hunt: I can't tell you how many of those I have done.

Jones: And this is mainly due to plaque buildup?

Hunt: Mm-hmm. It is due to plaque buildup, yes, mm-hmm, yeah.

Jones: That's scary, but I know it.

Hunt: Well, it's very important to have someone in town who's doing that. Yeah, it's important.

Jones: I didn't mean to interrupt you, but again these things are important to discuss a little bit so that they're understood better. How much time did you spend in Buffalo? And did you stay there? I'm not reading this fast enough, you've got many things you did in your life.

Hunt: Well, I did well in Buffalo there. I really did. And we made a trip down here, and I saw this wonderful new hospital. And the reason I left Buffalo was because I wanted to be the chief cook, bottle washer for heart surgery program. And I went to the New Hanover Memorial Hospital and talked to the guy who was CEO. His name was Emory Grubbs. Mr. Grubbs said, "Yes, I would like to have an open-heart surgery program in this hospital." I sat down in their record room. And I went over the charts for a number of years and reviewed it to see what kind of heart problems they admitted. And sure enough I came to the conclusion that there's enough material here that an open-heart surgery program would be of use. And I told Mr. Grubbs that, and he welcomed me. And we made a deal. I went back home to Buffalo, and I sold my home. And I resigned my job as associate professor of surgery and associate dean for clinical affairs. And I have in there somewhere that I organized a training program in five affiliated hospitals for them in Buffalo, and I worked on a mental hospital for the state.

Jones: I was going to ask you about that. An alcoholic research as well?

Hunt: Yeah, I got $15 million for them for that.

Jones: This was setting it up or fund-raising?

Hunt: Fund-raising to create an alcoholic research institute at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Jones: A 500-bed mental hospital.

Hunt: Yeah, right, for the state, I did that for New York State. They wanted to build a mental hospital, and I did the groundwork for them. I turned in the information. Anyway, I thought Wilmington would give me an opportunity to be the chief cook, bottle washer for heart surgery program and to start out in a new place and compete with Duke University. And so I came here. But by the time I got here, as I say I had to sell my house and resign my job and so on when I came here, Mr. Grubbs was no longer the CEO of the hospital. That had changed to a fellow by the name of Morrison. And I nearly fell over when Mr. Morrison told me, "We'll have heart surgery in this hospital over my dead body." Those are exact words he said.

Jones: Did you have any understanding of why somebody would not want heart surgery in a hospital?

Hunt: Well, I can give you the reasons he gave me. He said, "I worked in a hospital, before I came here, that had heart surgery. And it was a money-losing proposition." And I said, "Mr. Morrison, you don't think the Mayo Clinic would do 3,000 cases of heart surgery and lose money on them, do you? And they're doing six a day at the Cleveland Clinic." I said, "There's no way they're going to do that and lose money." But he would not listen. And then I pointed out...

Jones: This brings up a point too. Wasn't the job of this hospital, or any hospital, to serve its clientele, to keep them healthy? And if surgery was-- if they could possibly have surgery, what did you do with your heart patients? Did they have to go to Duke, Carolina?

Hunt: Go to Duke. Carolina had a program. They were late getting started. And I kept up with the ratings, and they were somewhere around 29 as I recall. I didn't think that was too good.

Jones: No I guess not. I'm sorry for interrupting you, this man had no vision.

Hunt: Well, it was very odd. And my plans were to put a group together of internist and other surgeons so that we could have a team that would be devoted to cardiology and cardiac surgery. And I would meet some guy at the Association for Thoracic Surgeons. I'd say, "Come down and see me, and we'll try to open a heart surgery program where I'm at." And they would come down and talk to Mr. Morrison, and they wouldn't come. I wasn't able to get an assistant at all.

Jones: When did it finally get off the ground, after he left?

Hunt: It's not off the ground.

Jones: It still isn't? They don't do heart surgery here?

Hunt: They don't do open-heart surgery, no. I think there's a guy who came to town, after I retired, that does what we call coronary artery bypass. But that's not open-heart surgery.

Jones: No.

Hunt: No. You have to have a machine that will take the place of the heart when you do open-heart surgery, because the heart is not able to pump. And that machine takes the place of the heart and the lungs while you're doing the surgery. We used what was called a Mayo-Gibbon pump-oxygenator at Mayo Clinic. And we began to have some problems with hemoglobin in our profusay [ph?]. That's the thing that we put back into the patient that we'd taken out. It'd have too much hemoglobin, free hemoglobin, in it. And we knew what problems they had at Minnesota, University of Minnesota, with their program and bubble oxygenator. They had tremendous number of brain injuries due to that. Well, I invented the coronary artery sinus sucker system that eliminated that problem. MedSciences, in St. Louis, Missouri, found out about it, and they sent three lawyers to see me. And I said, "Well, I don't claim to own that. I never patent it. And it belongs-- I gave it to the Mayo Clinic." So they got up and left on the plane almost that they came on.

Jones: That quick, huh?

Hunt: Very fast. They didn't waste any time with me after I told them that. But MedScience, in St. Louis, did make that thing that I put together and sold it to other people who were having those problems.

Jones: Did the Mayo Clinic thank you?

Hunt: No.

Jones: Unfortunately.

Hunt: I never got any official thanks from the Mayo Clinic. But the local people involved, like the anesthesiologists and the nurses and other people doing cardiac surgery, did thank me, yes.

Jones: So actually you're qualified to do open-heart surgery. Did you ever get to do it?

Hunt: Did it at Buffalo.

Jones: But after you came south?

Hunt: Not after I came here.

Jones: Did you miss it?

Hunt: Yeah.

Jones: But you stayed on here. What made you stay?

Hunt: Well, I was doing a lot of vascular work, like carotids and like things I was talking about with the leg and so on. And occasionally I would get a mitral valve to-- I did a sister. A nun came in with a stenotic mitral valve. She's the most grateful patient I ever had in my life. But I stuck my finger down in there and opened her mitral valve. And she was so healthy after she couldn't believe it. She never finished thanking me.

Jones: Well I can understand that. Did you have your own surgery done at Duke or was it done here?

Hunt: Pacemaker?

Jones: Your pacemaker.

Hunt: Let's see. I had mine done here by a cardiology group.

Jones: I see two names of hospitals here, Cape Fear Memorial, which was--

Hunt: Well, I did most of my work at the Cape Fear Memorial, and I'll tell you the reason. Because that was a well run operating room suite. A lady, a woman, by the name of Ruth Smith ran that, and she was quite smart. And it was very efficient. Everything I would tell them I needed was on the table and the nurse ready to give it to you, and I didn't have that experience at New Hanover. I would have a case scheduled, say, for 10:30 there. And I'd come in in time to do the case, change my clothes and have to sit in the waiting room and sometime wait an hour, as much as an hour and fifteen.

Jones: Oh, really?

Hunt: Yeah, much as an hour and 15 minutes. Well, you just can't do that, and it's a waste of time.

Jones: Was that because the operating rooms were full?

Hunt: Well, that's because the person that ran the operating room didn't know how to do it. Now, let me tell you what Miss Smith did. Say some guy would call up and say, Miss Smith, I have a gallbladder to do. Then she'd say, yes, doctor, we have some time at so and so, how long will it take you. And he would say, well, an hour and 15 minutes. Mrs. Smith would open her little notebook and look at the name of the doctor and the gallbladders he'd done before. And she'd say to him, well, an hour and 15 minutes-- you better put it down for an hour, 45.

Jones: She was one smart lady.

Hunt: Yeah, she was. She was. I've never seen but one that equaled her. And that was at the Mayo Clinic, the woman that supervised the operating room there. It went off on time and the same thing with Mrs. Smith. Not only that. If you'd requested such and such an instrument, for such and such a procedure, and asked the nurse for it, during the middle of the operation, they'd hand it to you. At the other place, oh, we don't have that on here.

Jones: That's scary.

Hunt: Well, I'm just telling you the way it was and why I did most of my surgery out at the other place.

Jones: So you came to Wilmington and you were unable to do any open-heart. Did you work alone or were you part of a group?

Hunt: I worked alone.

Jones: During all this time, it seems that you sort of assimilated into the community here itself, did other things.

Hunt: Yes, I did, mm-hmm. I served on the board of Wilmington Development Corporation, and I enjoyed that very much. And I tried my best to get Wilmington or somebody in Wilmington to build a convention center.

Jones: Oh wow. That was back in the '80s?

Hunt: Well, I came here in '69. They would not listen at all to that. I used to tell them about Myrtle Beach. I said, "Do you know what sort of income Myrtle Beach brings into the city?" And they, of course, said no. Do you know how much it brings in?

Jones: Myrtle Beach, no, I really don't.

Hunt: I'll tell you. $13 billion.

Jones: For their convention center?

Hunt: For the whole bunch of enterprises there. But convention center is a main one, one of the main ones. People, like the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and orthopedics and other businesses, will schedule a program in your convention center. And these people pour in, and they fill up your hotels. And they fill up your restaurants.

Jones: Your shops?

Hunt: And they shop and so on. And it's just an unbelievable, well, from a little town like Myrtle Beach to bring in $13 billion for a state, in an income, that is something.

Jones: I think one of the reasons people from New Hanover County hate to hear any comparison to Myrtle Beach is because Myrtle Beach, in the eyes of many, has become so commercialized, and lost any kind of historic identification. And I think that right there on the other hand is that saying, "Build it and they will come." We have such history here. We got the river, we got the battleship, the arts, the theatre. And I think people would flock here. This convention center could be used all year round, there's no place for the large high schools to have their prom for example, or any other events that take place. This is Chris Malpass, you have heard us speak of him, and he has now joined us. And when we're through I'm going to show you that picture, Dr. Hunt.

Hunt: Hi, Chris, how are you?

Malpass: Doing well.

Hunt: Good to see you.

Jones: It's mindboggling. You're kind of all over the place here. You're on the Civil Service Commission, served on the board of Planters National Bank and one of three people to start Hanover Bank. And the charter members expanded to 22 people and raised 1.3 chartered by state of North Carolina. You had nothing else to do, right?

Hunt: No, I had plenty to do. But...

Jones: I'm kidding you.

Hunt: ...Dr. Jerry Pence and a fellow that was hot on financial things named Al Harrison, who's now deceased, we got together and we decided we'd start a bank.

Jones: Why? I have to ask you why.

Hunt: Well, just one of those things, something to do we've got going for the town and the people here. And so we started what we named as Hanover Bank. We built that building down there. It's just a little bit this way from the hospital. You know where...

Jones: Mm-hmm.

Hunt: is? And we ran that for a while, had a good guy in charge as CEO of the bank. And, by Jove, Planters Bank came along, that's the tenth largest bank in North Carolina, and bought the thing from us. And Planters later disposed of it some way, and I'm not sure how, to RBC, Royal Bank of Canada. And that's what it is now. It's RBC Centura's property. But we started that bank. We built the building. We put in the safe and everything. We had an architect, of course, give us help and so on. But that was a great project, and I was on the board of that bank for a long time.

Jones: This town has always seemed to be a lucrative starting place for starting banks. I can think of several that have started in the last 15, 20 years. And my father-in-law was one who was with Carolina Savings and Loan Real Estate, and that finally became BB&T. So they go from there.

Hunt: Don Blake, you know him. Don Blake wrote a piece on that. I've read it.

Jones: Really?

Hunt: It's a history of banks in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Jones: That would be interesting. And of course Port City Bank is a start up in recent times. Along with a few others and they're all doing well.

Hunt: But Al Harrison, Jerry Pence and I started what is now RBC Centura Bank.

Jones: Well that's marvelous. So how long did you, you retired finally. Well you never retired.

Hunt: Yes, I did. I retired in 1991.

Jones: Well I'm thinking, when I say you never retired-- it looks like you kept your hand in a number of organizations and activities. And somebody who does that is not completely retired. You retired from your surgical practice in 1991?

Hunt: That's correct, mm-hmm.

Jones: Okay, so this was. You have down here clinical assistant, and clinical associate professor of surgery in University of North Carolina-school of medicine, 1969-1992. And honorary professor, national university of [inaudible], and that two was 1992. Now here's something I find interesting--

Hunt: I'd like to tell you about Paraguay.

Jones: I'm going to hear that but I want to ask you this before I forget. You were involved not just only in heart diseases, etcetera. But it looks like it was mental health, alcoholism, pulmonary diseases.

Hunt: I certainly was involved with that, yeah.

Jones: Tuberculosis, thoracic surgery consultant, United Mine Workers of America. What else would you like to talk about? (laughter)

Hunt: I didn't get the question, could you repeat that please.

Jones: Redo. After, alright, talk about these things and also the committee of 300. Talk about whatever you want at this point.

Hunt: Well, I would like to tell you about my experience in Paraguay. For a long time, I'd say for a number of years, State University of New York at Buffalo had an association with the University of Ascension Medical School. And it was their goal, and financed by the United States Government, one of their foreign health programs, to improve medical education in the University of Ascension Medical School. And when the time came, the guy that preceded me came home and resumed his job in the surgery department at Buffalo. And the dean asked me if I would be interested in going to Latin America as a consultant to the National University of Ascension and try to improve medical education in that school. And I gave him a very positive yes. Because I had always been interested in Latin America and read about it. And during my high school years, I had received a publication from the embassy in Washington of Venezuela. And every month I'd receive a paper that talked about Venezuela and, incidentally, about other things that happened to be going on in Latin America that had some influence in Venezuela. One thing that was more interesting than anything else was Caroni River and the fact that there was gold in the Caroni River. And I had a sleeping ambition to see the Caroni and go down there and get some of the gold. I'm serious. But I'll tell you. I finally did make it to Venezuela. And I did see the Caroni River but didn't do any gold mining. Anyway, when they asked me if I would like to go to Paraguay as a consultant in medical education, I answered, "Yes, I would." So we picked up our three children and we went to Paraguay, actually, four children. We went to Paraguay and spent two years down there trying to improve medical education. I virtually planned and had built a new surgical suite. Because I thought the old one was inadequate and dangerous, and it was. They had a operating room down here, and they had an amphitheater up here. And they could look down and see the surgery that was going on down below them. The students could and the trainees could. The only thing is, if they coughed, their material out of their lungs could get down into the operating room, contaminate a wound. And that just appalled me. They had a loose board in one of the attics with dust coming down from that, and that's just intolerable.

Jones: Did they not know how to prevent this, or was it just lack of help?

Hunt: Let me tell you another story. I spent some time making rounds and so on and so forth seeing some patients, etcetera to see what was going on in the medical school, the education of the students and the trainees. Residents, we call them. And I encountered, one day, a fellow who had had heart problem, heart attack. And I asked to see a cardiogram on this patient. They said, "Well, we don't have one." And I said, "You don't have a cardiogram? Made it purely on the basis of his history and so on?" Yes, yes, yes, don't have a cardiogram." And I says, "Where is your machine?" He said, "It's over in the corner." So I went over and looked at it. And, by Jove, it was nonfunctional. It had, well, I'd say, an error on it, and it had two wires going out. The wire at the end was heated, and it would write on the paper supposedly. Actually, it was a heat mark on the paper but it would record a cardiogram. And I said, "Well, how long has that been out of order?" They said about three, four months. "You haven't had any cardiograms before, I mean, since that time?" He said, "No." I said, "Why don't you get it fixed?" He said, "Well, we don't know how. There's no one here that can fix it." So you know what I did? I got on the phone and call the maker of the machine. I forget who it was now. And they said, "Well, we'll send you a replacement for that arm on the machine, you can put it in and your machine should work then if that's the only thing wrong with it."

Jones: Was there somebody there who had the knowledge of how to put it in? Did you do it?

Hunt: No. I stood and supervised it while an electrician did it. And, by Jove, I agreed to bear the cost of the purchase of it. Do you know how much that cost?

Jones: I hate to ask. You can tell me if you want.

Hunt: $6.

Jones: Oh no! For $6 they went four years with a broken machine.

Hunt: They went several years. I don't know exactly how much.

Jones: They had no idea probably that it was so little.

Hunt: That's right. They didn't even investigate it you see. And I just picked up the phone, called the company. And they sent it down by air. Six bucks.

Jones: Crazy.

Hunt: And we paid for it.

Jones: Were they grateful?

Hunt: Yeah, they were.

Jones: That's good.

Hunt: Anyway, there was a number of things like that, similar to it. I took a great interest in their library, and I went over the availability of certain materials. And we improved the library by adding to it. Another thing was I took a look at post-university education and refreshment and learning, and there wasn't any of that. So I started affording expenses for them to go and attend medical meetings that were held in the United States, like the Association for Thoracic Surgery and other medical organizations. This was a big hit with those people, not just the fact that they were traveling to the United States but the fact that they were improving their education and their service to their people you see.

Jones: Was there any fund available, tuition-type thing, to cover the cost of travel and living expenses?

Hunt: I spent about $2 million it says there, but I think it was more than that. Anyway, we had funds from money that had been appropriated by the United States for the assistance. I actually saw, in Venezuela, a residence that had been built by our money, our tax money, for poor people who didn't have adequate facilities to live in. And they moved into this great big tall building that was out on a space outside of Caracas.

Jones: Have you had contact with some of these students that you came in contact with down there? See how they progressed through your intervening, being able to come to this country, and take certain classes.

Hunt: For a while, I heard from people whose acquaintance I made and did something for them down there. And we were accepted unbelievably by the general population. We lived in a large two-story house with some beautiful grapevines and almost a half a block of a yard. We threw some social things. We were included very much in the social things that went on in Ascension.

Jones: How old were your children at this point? They must've been older.

Hunt: No, they were in their early teens or less.

Jones: Any one of them become a doctor?

Hunt: No. My son is the oldest of our children, and he's a captain of a 757 and works for US Air. He's pilot. My oldest daughter is an attorney, got her law school degree. And she works in Washington for the Edison Institute, which is an organization funded by all of the particularly small power companies in this country. She keeps up with what Congress is doing that affects the power companies and so on. For example, she just got a bill defeated in Congress. They give her a bonus of, like, $12,000 and so on and so forth for the kind of things that she's good at. She writes well and so forth. And then the middle daughter is in Atlanta. She's married to a guy who's a director for sports events, TV station down there. She worked here at a TV station as a...

Jones: Newsperson?

Hunt: ...reporter. Hum?

Jones: Was she on camera?

Hunt: Yeah, mm-hmm, Rebecca Hunt.

Jones: And your last one?

Hunt: The last one, Sarah, is a fund-raiser, which she learned at Duke. While she was a student there, she worked in the office that raised money for Duke. And she's now a fund-raiser for the engineering school of Southern Illinois University.

Jones: They've all done well. I know you're proud. And your wife, during all of this, she was the one who stayed home and kept the home fires burning and massaged their backs.

Hunt: And beat me three times a day.

Jones: And beat you three times a day to keep you in line. You have to do that. (laughs) she's still with you, and she's moved to all these places.

Hunt: That's right. When we moved to Wilmington, we promised ourselves that we'd never move again. We've had several opportunities to go elsewhere. But we said, no, we promised ourselves we'd never move again. And so we've remained here in Wilmington.

Jones: Are you still in the same residence than when you first came here, or you scaled down a bit?

Hunt: Well, we scaled down, yeah.

Jones: That's what happens. You kind of have to.

(crew talk)

Jones: I already know that you're heavily involved in environmental issues and the CEO of Millennium Environmental Technologies Inc., which is dedicated to a clean North Carolina, the end of animal-waste pollution. I've heard about it on the radio, television and newspapers in the past ten years, anyway It's a noble cause because it's getting worse I'm sure, but will it ever happen?

Hunt: I don't know. The thing that I proposed not only will rid North Carolina and other states, like Iowa, of the hog waste problem and get rid of the lagoons. I'll describe it to you basely, outline form.

(crew talk)

Hunt: In Denmark, the hog waste is collected on the farms and it's brought in and digested. And the methane that comes off of it, during the digestive process, is sold to the power grid. The waste is compiled and shipped back to the farmer who brought the waste in, and it has decreased his expenditures for fertilizer to 15 percent of what he used to have before he started on this. Well, my innovation is as follows. The hog waste is collected in a central place. It's put into a big tower and digested. The methane is taken out and used to heat and provide power to a greenhouse. And in the greenhouse, we grow hydroponic tomatoes with the chemicals we get after the waste has been processed and digested. It's profitable. Hydroponic tomatoes are at a premium price in the store. A soil-grown ripe tomato will have a shelf life of about three days. A hydroponic tomato has a shelf life of 12 to 15 days. Therefore, grocer prefers them. And they get a percentage, which I've quoted in here, of higher price than soil-grown tomatoes. I have a chart in here which shows you how profitable this is. I'll find it and let you have a look at it.

Jones: We'll have to look at it when we're off camera.

Hunt: I understand that, but you made me interested enough to--

Jones: That's interesting.

Hunt: Here's a cumulative income.

Jones: I have just one last question concerning this. I see that your wife is the secretary and you have other people on board. Has it come to the attention of local people or the state? Have you gotten that far?

Hunt: Well, I presented it to the guy who's in charge of the animal waste project for North Carolina State University.

Jones: That's a good start right there.

Hunt: Well, I thought he would be of great help, but no help has come. But he's favorable impressed. He wants this. He thinks it'll work. But we haven't been able to dig up the $6 million.

Jones: Hang in there, that's an issue. Hang in there, this is an issue to be dealt with, eventually if not sooner. Doctor, it's been a pleasure having you here. We could probably sit and talk another hour, but we don't have it right now. I hope you will consider coming back and we'll pick up on a couple of issues. You've done many things in your life. All of them warrant at least a half hour to an hour of talk. And I'm very glad that you made the effort and you were so willing to come and spend this time.

Hunt: Well, I've enjoyed it tremendously.

Jones: I thank you so much.

UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign