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 [email protected]

>>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. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  2. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  4. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  5. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.