Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Ollie S.H. Hunter

Educator and choir director Ollie Hunter demanded the best

TAMPA — Ollie S.H. Hunter was one of those leaders who stepped into the role easily, as if reasoning someone had to lead and it probably should be her.

She shared her skills as a musician with students at Monroe Middle School and the members of St. James House of Prayer Episcopal Church, where she served as musical director for 29 years.

She was a past president of the Tampa chapters of Delta Sigma Theta and the Links, both organizations led by black women.

In a squeaky voice that belied her strong personality, Mrs. Hunter preached "giving 110 percent," and often accepted nothing less.

Mrs. Hunter, a 28-year teacher and administrator in Hillsborough County schools and a mainstay at her church, died Oct. 19, of cancer. She was 71.

"Some of us have a reputation for saying what's on our minds," said state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, who held daily telephone conference calls between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. with Mrs. Hunter and the late Altamese Hamilton, another close friend. "That's what Ollie and I had in common."

Her funeral service Monday filled St. James to capacity, with music and Scripture all selected by Mrs. Hunter in recent weeks. Choir member Clarence Lee called her "talented and fussy."

"If you had it in you and she knew it, she was going to get it out of you — and woe be unto you if you didn't deliver, because she would call you out," said Lee.

The Rev. Ernestein Flemister, the parish priest, recounted Mrs. Hunter's glissandos on the piano, dragging her thumbnail across the keys like Jerry Lee Lewis; her love of catfish and spicy wings; and her struggle with breast cancer.

Ollie Savonia Hamilton was born in Tampa, the youngest of nine children in a musical family. Her sister, Vissadean, taught her how to play the piano. After graduating from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), she taught music at George Washington and Madison middle schools before settling in at Monroe Middle School. She served as dean for six years, then as assistant principal for an additional 17 years, retiring in 2003.

She began directing music at the House of Prayer in 1981, the same year her husband of 20 years, the Rev. C.S. Hunter, died. She stayed at the helm as the church merged in 1996 with St. James Episcopal Church.

She once stopped a men-only number in mid performance during a concert with a firm, "We've got to do it better." (The men started the song over from the top, and nailed it.)

Choir member Maisie Reddy sang My Tribute at the service, trying not to feel the pressure. Said Reddy, "I knew she was up there listening, saying, 'Now, wait a minute …' "

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Ollie Sovinia Hamilton Hunter

Born: Aug. 15, 1939.

Died: Oct. 19, 2010.

Survivors: Sister Vissadean O.H. Frierson and her husband, the Rev. Harold H. Frierson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Educator and choir director Ollie Hunter demanded the best 10/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two Kissimmee police officers killed; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — Two Kissimmee police officers were shot and killed Friday night, and one person was taken into custody, authorities said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.