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Hunter remembered for Zonta, chamber, Jaycees volunteer roles - So Md News

Charles County lost a civic and business pioneer just after the start of the new year.

Marlene S. Hunter, 80, of Scottsville, Va., the first woman to serve as executive director of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, died Jan. 2.

Hunter, who had lived in Bryantown for 35 years and then in La Plata for about 15 years, was living with her daughter in Virginia for the past five years.

Susan Hunter Ferguson said her mother had been sick with Alzheimer’s disease in the last two years and died of pneumonia.

“We’re learning she’s the last of a generation just about,” Ferguson said. Hunter also is survived by her sons Gregory Scott Hunter of Annapolis and Charles Phifer Hunter of Chesapeake, Va., and three grandchildren.

Ferguson said her mother probably would have said that besides founding the local chapter of the Zonta Club, a women’s group that addresses domestic and sexual violence issues, her greatest accomplishment was being married to Bill R. Hunter, publishing editor of newspapers in the Washington, D.C., area for more than 40 years and a Korean War veteran.

Ferguson said she learned later in her life that not many people have the dedication to community that her mother had for Charles County.

Hunter’s dedication began in 1967 as an adult 4-H leader and camp counselor, Ferguson said. She served the chamber for 45 years, founded Zonta, played a key role in chartering the Greater Waldorf Jaycees and served on several boards, including for the Charles County Children’s Aid Society, her daughter said. Hunter co-founded the Shelter Development Committee and worked with Ann C. Rees and the late Gayle Cooke to develop a temporary safe house for battered and abused women in the county.

Hunter’s friendship of more than 30 years will be missed by Rees of La Plata, who worked with Hunter through Zonta and the shelter committee.

“Yes, a very long friendship,” Rees said. She was younger than Hunter and very shy when she met her, Rees said, but “when I met her, I came out of my shell.”

Rees said that a house was not available until recently to provide shelter for battered and abused women, and Alzheimer’s kept Hunter from realizing that the goal of the committee had been met. The Gayle Cooke House, opened last summer, was named after Hunter’s and Rees’ friend who was killed by her daughter’s boyfriend in 2000.

Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles) was executive director of the chamber following Hunter’s stint as executive director, and said she was sorry to hear of her passing.

“She was always a very caring person, and always tried to help people,” said Jameson, who would frequently run into Hunter at community fundraisers and organizational events.

Jameson said Hunter was always a stable figure in the community “and always out there willing to help.”

“She will certainly be missed,” Jameson said.

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