Honoring Mr. Hunter

Via a Facebook friend, I saw this article last month honoring my junior high school teacher, Robert Hunter, who taught phys ed and coached teams for 39 years. The YouTube video embedded in the article was particularly mesmerizing. Even at 80, he looks great.

So when I was in San Jose earlier this month, I decided to pay him a visit one evening. He graciously invited my kids and I into his home, insisted that I take some candy for them, and regaled us with stories from his life. There was a pang of dread when he questioned me as to why I missed his birthday celebration, but my mumbled response - "actually, I live in Philadelphia now" - seemed to be satisfactory to him. Whew.

I'd be lying if I said that voice still doesn't strike fear in my legs. Even after all these years, I can remember that voice saying things like "it's going to be a blood day, gentleman," followed by him counting off 12-count burpees for what seemed like an eternity while we all tried to keep up with a 50ish man who was in better shape than we could ever imagine ourselves to be.

Man, we hated blood days. But we never hated Mr. Hunter: he was too fearsome, too dignified, and too decent, that even though we dreaded him working us, we always respected and even revered him.

The YouTube video starts with a shot of his house, which was next door to our family friends' house, so I saw him occasionally outside the school setting, and he was as friendly there as he was fearsome in second period gym. It is really heartening to read this article and see so many others chime in with kind words for Mr. Hunter. Happy 80th birthday, Mr. Hunter, and you'll be happy to know I can still do 12-count burpees.

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