Denison officials called Donna Hunt the gatekeeper of Denison’s history Tuesday night. Hunt stood before the City Council and a packed house as she heard Mayor Janet Gott read a proclamation to her.
Jan. 21 was named Donna Hunt Day after the former editor of the Denison Herald.
“Tonight we have the privilege to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Donna Hunt,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said. “Donna has been the care taker and story teller of our rich history of our community. We have all been privileged and intrigued by the 2,050 articles she has written since 1967 which contained often unknown facts and maybe some forgotten stories. As a lifelong resident in Denison it is easy to recognize Donna’s passion as she writes about the city she loves.”
Hunt immediately shied away from the praise falling back on her journalist duties.
“I don’t know if all this is deserved,” Hunt said. “It is something I was paid to do. Some of it I did for volunteer as you said. But it’s been a pleasure whatever I do for the city of Denison. You have some great people on the city council here.”
Hunt was also praised by one of the sitting city council members, Brian Hander.
“No one has done more deeds for this town or our history than you,” Hander said. “I’ve known Donna since I was in high school. When she helped me start my own history column for the school newspaper the Stinger, I would email her and she would correct what I had gotten wrong. She is the ultimate knowledge and story keeper of our city. Without her we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Hander said Denison appreciates all the work she has done saying Denison would be lost without her.
The proclamation Gott read stated Hunt was born in 1935 and had remained a Denison native her entire life. She graduated from Denison High School in 1953.
“The city of Denison and Grayson County have realized an enriched knowledge of our local history due to the tireless work of local writer and historian Donna Hunt,” Gott said. “For many years, she has written twice-weekly newspaper columns documenting the history of this region.”
Hunt said she plans to do more writing in the future.
“Once you are a writer ,it doesn’t get out of your blood,” she said. “I’ve written four books and writing my column for the Herald Democrat kept me pretty busy. Now I just don’t know what I am going to do. But it’s great I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Hunt said she spent the majority of her career digging up the history of Denison, and she learned a lot about the city and was grateful to have been able to share it with the citizens. After she wrote her last column, she said she received over 300 messages on Facebook thanking her for her work with not a single negative comment.
Hunt spent several years working as the manager for the Eisenhower Birthplace Historic Site. Before that she made her name in the community becoming the first female editor of The Denison Herald. She spent her last several years writing a history column with a special focus on her hometown of Denison.
She offered a piece of advice for any aspiring writer or journalist.
“To a young journalist I would say take every opportunity that you can take,” Hunt said. “Wherever you work no matter what kind of job you have. If it’s in the media there are opportunities where you go to seminars, and learn, hear people talk those sort of things. I don’t know how many of those things I’ve gone to. But take every opportunity you get to do something new.”