Elizabeth Morrison Hunter
Hanover, N.H. — Elizabeth Morrison Hunter, amateur sculptor, recorder player, faculty wife, and mother of eight, died peacefully on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in her room at Kendal. She was born on Nov. 11, 1914, at Grand Rapids, Mich., the daughter of William PerLee Gibson, an accountant, and Charlotte Meigs Gibson. “Betty”, as she was then known, graduated from Oberlin in 1936, then moved to Princeton, N.J., where she worked as an administrative assistant at Miss Fine’s School. At Princeton, Betty met Donald H. Morrison, then a Ph.D. student. They were married in 1938 and settled briefly in Baton Rouge, where Don held positions on the faculty of Louisiana State University.
In 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the couple moved to Washington to take part in the war effort. Betty found a job as personal secretary to Edward Stettinius, director of the Lend Lease Administration. When Stettinius moved to the State Department near the end of the War, to become Under Secretary and later Secretary of State, Betty went with him, and, in the spring of 1945, traveled to San Francisco with the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization. That fall, she and Don moved to Hanover, where he began his career at Dartmouth as Assistant Professor of Government. As a faculty wife, Betty’s social responsibilities increased substantially when, in1947, Don was appointed full Professor and Dean of the Faculty, and, in 1954, became the first Provost of the College.
When Don died unexpectedly in 1959, Betty moved with her three children to Ann Arbor, Mich. to be with her sister Jane Gibson Likert. A year later, she returned to Hanover and married Dr. Ralph Hunter, a neurologist and trustee of Dartmouth College, in the process becoming, as she put it, an “instant” mother of eight. For the next two decades she oversaw the busy life at the family home on Hemlock Road, exercising her talents as cook, dressmaker, gardener, chauffeur, and amateur child psychologist.
When the nest finally emptied, she and Ralph spent their retirement years together — sailing the Maine coast, traveling to Europe and Asia, and playing music with friends at the Howe Library. During Ralph’ s long final illness, she was a devoted and relentless caregiver, first at home, and later visiting him daily for “cocktails” at his nursing home in Lebanon.
Two years after Ralph died in 2000, Betty moved to Kendal, where she was known to her many new friends as “Elizabeth.” She spent her remaining years playing soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorder in several music groups, driving other residents into town, knitting blankets and sweaters for new generations of Hunter-Morrisons, attending ILEAD classes at Dartmouth, taking long walks, working crossword puzzles, hosting visits from her children and their offspring, and taking part in various Kendal events, including, at the age of 96, a well-received theatrical performance as Helen Keller. Full of energy and grace even in her later years, she continued to inspire and center her extended family, showing another generation, as she had her children before, what matters and how to live a good life.
In addition to her many friends and admirers at Kendal, she leaves her children — Sally Hunter (Louisville, Ky.), Donald M. Morrison (Memphis, Tenn.), Jane Hunter (Portland, Ore.), Elizabeth Morrison (Thetford, Vt.), William Morrison (Norwich, Vt.), R. William Hunter, Jr. (Bethany, Conn.), John Hunter (Portland, Ore.), and Molly Hunter (Tucson, Ariz.) — seventeen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in the spring.