Sunday, March 12, 2000

Firefighters' champion dies

James Hunt led fight for higher pay

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        James A. Hunt, whose dedication to the Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local 48 led to higher pay for firefighters, died Thursday of lung cancer. The Mount Washington resident was 81.

        Mr. Hunt, who retired as a Cincinnati fire captain at the Liberty and Linn street station in 1974, successfully waged a campaign in 1966 to amend the city charter to guarantee equal pay for police and firefighters.

        “The police were getting $2,000 to $3,000 more than firefighters,” said Larry Schmolt of Price Hill, a retired assistant fire chief and friend.

        “He led the fight. We worked at the polls. Our wives worked at the polls. We passed the charter amendment. It was something that was good for 20 to 25 years. Police and fire would negotiate together.”

        As union president in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, Mr. Hunt was instrumental in establishing the Police and Fireman's Disability and Pension Fund, one of the largest public pension funds in the state, Mr. Schmolt said.

        Away from his public service, Mr. Hunt raced horses at River Downs and Turfway, said his son, James A. Hunt, a lawyer from Pierce Township in Clermont County.

        Lately, Fooled by Words, a horse Mr. Hunt owned with a partner “has been paying his own way” through wins at local tracks, Mr. Hunt's son said.

        Said Mr. Schmolt: “He had a few winners, but mostly he just fed them.”

        Mr. Hunt joined the Cincinnati Fire Division in the early 1940s as an ambulance driver after Army duty in the South Pacific during World War II, his son said. He often talked about the number of babies he delivered on the job, and estimated that to be around 700, the younger Mr. Hunt said.

        He said he wanted his father to be remembered as a man with high values.

        “He always wanted to do what was morally right. He certainly taught me to do the right thing even if it was the hard thing to do,” his son said.

        Mr. Hunt was a member of Linwood Masonic Lodge 567, Scottish Rite, Syrian Shrine and American Legion Post 484.

        Other survivors include daughters Deborah J. Welles of Hyde Park, Stephanie Hunt of Hyde Park, Holly R. Albers of Bethel and Suzette S. Tumbleson of Mount Lookout; sister Jan Sturgis of Boca Raton, Fla.; and seven grandchildren.

        Visitation is 2-5 p.m. todayat T.P. White & Sons Funeral Home, 2050 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington. Masonic service will be 4:45 p.m.

        The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, with burial in Guardian Angels Cemetery, Anderson Township. Memorials are suggested to Shriners Burns Institute, 3229 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati OH 45219.


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