James West Hunt, Jr. (“Jim”) was born in Ocala, Florida on August 12, 1938, and died in Ocala on April 24, 2017, several days after suffering a severe stroke. He was 78 years old. He attended public schools in Ocala and graduated from Ocala High School in 1956. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation, completed boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland, and served three years as a radarman aboard the Navy destroyer USS HARLAN R. DICKSON (DD-708), which made an extended Mediterranean cruise while Jim was aboard. He got out of the Navy after one active-duty enlistment but remained in the Active Reserves for two years, during which time he attended Central Florida Junior College (CFJC) and worked at the Ritz Theater in Ocala and Tommy Bartlett’s Deer Ranch in Silver Springs. With his Associate of Arts degree in Drafting from CFJC, he went to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Cape Canaveral for about four years, after which he attended the University of Florida for one year before moving to Tampa. While in Tampa he worked for Tampa Electric for several years and then as a locksmith. He then returned to Ocala to work for Culligan Water Softeners for several years before moving to Ormond Beach, after which he relocated to Okeechobee for several years and then to Astor Park in the Ocala National Forest. He later returned to Ocala, where he worked as a courier for a medical laboratory company, and then he moved to Anthony.
Jim was predeceased by his father, James W. Hunt, by his step-father, Herbert A. Speir, Jr., and by his mother, Florence Davis Speir.
He is survived by his brother, Bert Speir, and sister-in-law Mary Ann Speir of Whidbey Island, Washington, and cousins Mont Laffitte (Jacksonville), Bob Price (Valrico), Punkin Larosa (Sanford), Bo Speir (Deltona), and Mickey Beall (Margate). Jim is also survived by his former wife Ann, with whom he maintained an enduring good friendship. Jim will be remembered for his big heart, his intelligence, his great sense of humor, his love of all animals, and his special devotion to his own pets, all of which he rescued from animal shelters or other dire straits.
A small celebration-of-life and remembrance ceremony for Jim will be held at 10 AM on Friday June 30th at the Countryside Funeral Home in Anthony. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jim’s memory to the Humane Society of Marion County.