KINGSPORT — Marie Hutchinson Hunter, Kingsport, passed away peacefully on August 4, 2014.
Marie was known to all in the Tri-Cities area as a talented promoter of music and the arts for Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport, Tennessee, and East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. She was a wonderful teacher of music both for Dobyns-Bennett and for private piano students.
She was born in Newport, Virginia, and was an only child. Her father was killed when she was four years old. Her mother went back to college to finish her degree and became an elementary teacher in Newport. When Marie graduated from Newport High School, her mother encouraged her to become a teacher, and she went on to Virginia Intermont College and received a two-year piano diploma. Marie continued her collegiate years at the Peabody College in Nashville, where she received both her M.A. and Educational Specialist Degrees. She took additional course work at East Tennessee State University, Eastman Conservatory of Music and the University of Indiana.
Marie accepted a job to teach choral music at Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1945. She organized and directed several varied choral groups at Dobyns-Bennett, but without a doubt, she is most recognized for the Madrigal Singers which she led for thirty years. In 1946, the Madrigal Singers of Dobyns-Bennett were the first to be organized on the high school level in Tennessee. Marie was involved in many groups over the years and received many awards for her leadership. She was President of the Tennessee Music Educators Association, East Tennessee Vocal Music Association, Kingsport Chapter of Altrusa International, and IOTA Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.
She was very proud of her membership and long association with First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, where she served on various committees and played the organ on many Sundays.
Marie was single for many years, but in 1973 she renewed her friendship with her high school sweetheart and she became Mrs. Shirley Sonner Hunter. After taking early retirement from Kingsport City Schools, she continued to teach private music lessons to children and adults. During her retirement, she and Shirley traveled all over the U.S., Europe, and South America. Marie loved travelling, cooking, gardening and her many wonderful friends. Anyone who knew her quickly developed a deep admiration for her. She maintained her wonderful, cheerful attitude through the years, even during her times of sickness.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Shirley Sonner Hunter; cousin, Robert Helms; and special friend, Hoyt Gillespie.
Marie is survived by stepsons, Michael Hunter and Deryle Hunter; cousins, Eleanor Munsey, Polly McFarlane, Cheryl Kingrea, Larry Reynolds, and William Reynolds; special relatives, sons, and daughter of her beloved cousin, Robert Helms, Robert Helms, Jr., Will Helms, Alan Helms, and Cathy Helms; her devoted caregivers, Betty Minor, Lois Raleigh, Margaret Crawford, Linda Hood, Kay Dockery, and Melody Giacometti; many loving, treasured friends including Helen Whitson, Cary Grabar, Mary Sue Still, Midge Umberger, Trish Harris, and many, many others too numerous to name.
Special thanks to Joy Eastridge and the ministers and parish of First Broad Street United Methodist Church; her doctors and nurses at Holston Valley Hospital, Wellmont Hospice, and Brookhaven Nursing Home.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home, Kingsport. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. on Friday at First Broad Street United Methodist Church with The Rev. Jack P. Weikel officiating. Burial will be at 4 p.m. at Newport Cemetery in Newport, Virginia, in her family’s resting place.
Please visit www.hamlettdobson.com to leave an on-line condolence for the family.
Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes, Kingsport is serving the family of Marie Hutchinson Hunter.