When Margaret Rice’s family was looking for a way to honor the memory of her father, she knew a University of Houston-Victoria endowed scholarship was exactly what he would want.
The Justin Truett Hunt Memorial Scholarship recently was fully endowed thanks to donations from Hunt’s family.
Hunt, who was a lifelong resident of Kenedy and died July 29, 2016, spent his life advocating for higher education, and encouraging and helping young people attend college.
“We wanted to keep his values in the forefront,” said Rice, who retired as the UHV assistant to the provost and faculty member in 2016. “He valued his college education and wanted others to have that experience. He encouraged many to study and earn their degrees.”
The scholarship funds will benefit full-time undergraduate students with a preference toward students from Karnes County. The funds can be used to pay for tuition, books, fees and other academic supplies. It will be awarded based on financial need.
“I was honored to meet Justin Hunt before he passed, and I was struck by how committed he was to ensuring everyone had access to higher education,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “I’m extremely grateful for the support he has given UHV, and now that support has extended to include a scholarship to honor him.”
Hunt was born in 1919 in Choate. He attended Choate Community School before transferring to Kenedy High School. After receiving his diploma, he attended Baylor University, where he met Lillian Ann Gibson, his future wife.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hunt joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and served in World War II after completing his degree in 1942 and attending Naval Officer Candidate School in Chicago.
Hunt and Lillian Ann returned to Kenedy after the war, where he worked as a cattle rancher and eventually owned Truett Hunt and Co., a cotton merchandising business; managed the Kenedy Compress and Warehouses; and started Karnes Insurance Agency. He was active in his church and community, including serving as a deacon in his church, president of the Kenedy Chamber of Commerce, served on the Kenedy City Council, and was a board member for many groups, including the Kenedy Airport Board, First Nichols National Bank and the San Antonio River Authority.
Hunt previously endowed the Ann Gibson Hunt Endowment at UHV and another scholarship at Baylor University in memory of his wife, who died in 2003. After his daughter, Marcia, died, he also endowed a scholarship in her memory at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. Now, his family is honoring him with his own named scholarship.
“This is an outstanding example of how scholarships can extend a legacy,” Pisors said. “Mr. Hunt was passionate about higher education, and the scholarships he and his family created have ensured that his passion will influence and assist students for years to come.”
One of the things that Rice remembers most about her father was his generosity, especially when it came to helping young people get an education. Rice remembers a time during her childhood when her father made several calls to help a young man get a scholarship so he could attend college.
After the memorial scholarships were created to honor his wife and daughter, he often received letters from the students who received those funds, and he kept in contact with many of them.
“Over the years, I’ve had so many people come up to me and express their gratitude for how my father helped them,” Rice said. “I think the scholarships helped him deal with his grief by honoring the people he loved, while also investing in future generations, especially for those in Karnes County.”