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Obituaries : H.W. 'Henry' Hunter; Auto Dealership Owner


ANTELOPE VALLEY — H.W. "Henry" Hunter, who owned and operated H.W. Hunter Inc. Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge for 52 years, has died. He was 87.

Hunter died Saturday of lung failure at Antelope Valley Hospital, according to his daughter, Marilyn Fuller of Lancaster.

Hunter, who worked up until his death, was known not only as a successful businessman, but also as a philanthropist who donated time, money and cars to charities and individuals in need.

Born May 9, 1909, in Los Angeles, Hunter moved to the Antelope Valley in 1929 to become a cowboy. He worked on several ranches before taking a job at a gas station. Under the tutelage of a local businessman, Hunter learned the business and eventually bought the gas station, which, in 1944, he transformed into a Dodge dealership. At his death, Hunter had 50 employees and had become a legend of sorts for his philanthropy, according to Bud Fulp, sales manager for the dealership.

"He was a cowboy in his heart--that's why he sponsored the rodeos," said Fulp, referring to the Antelope Valley Fair Rodeo, which Hunter helped establish and sponsored for many years. "Nobody can even come close to what this man has done for this community."

Hunter's contributions to the community include helping to establish a Department of Motor Vehicles office and several bank branches in Lancaster.

In addition to the rodeo, Hunter sponsored livestock auctions, and was a past exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge, past president of the Lancaster Rotary Club, and a member of the Lancaster Trade Club. He also served on the board of directors of the Dodge Dealers Assn., and the Community Chest, among others.

In addition to Fuller, Hunter is survived by his wife, Dorothy; two other daughters, Dawn Lang of Lancaster and Melinda Grace of Stockton; two sons, Henry Hunter and Doug Birge, both of Lancaster, 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Lancaster Elks Lodge No. 1625, 240 E. Ave. K, with interment to follow at Joshua Memorial Park, 808 E. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Hunter's name to the Elks major project or a charity of the donor's choice.

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