Jane Minter Gardner Hunter, 99, of Clemson passed away September 14, 2023. She was the wife of the late William Harvey Hunter, Sr., M.D.
Born in Hartsville, SC, she was the daughter of the late Sidney Kelly Gardner and Julia Loucelle Gwin Gardner. Mrs. Hunter received her bachelor’s degree in English from Coker College. She was a school teacher, a Delta Airline stewardess, and active in politics, where she led electoral campaigns and consulted with the Department of Education. Jane is a longtime member of Clemson United Methodist Church.
She is survived by her children: Samuel Eugene Hunter of Santa Rosa, CA, the Reverend Gwin Hunter Hanahan and her husband James of Seneca, William Harvey Hunter Jr. and his wife Nore of Arden, NC, and the Reverend Doctor John Mark Hunter and his wife Melissa of Clarksville, TN. Her grandchildren are Jane Hanahan Swing and her husband Dale, James Ross Hanahan III and his wife Anna, Carson Gaillard Hanahan, William Hunter Hanahan and his wife Marina, William Harvey Hunter III, Trevor Chaumette Hunter, James Patrick Hunter, Julia Scott Hunter and her husband Christian, Victoria Grace Hunter and her husband Greg, and John Davis Hunter. Her great-grandchildren are James Ross Hanahan IV, Sullivan Hemphill Hanahan, Charles William Hanahan, Mary Wilson Hanahan, Henley Jane Hanahan, Anabela Esperanza Hanahan, and Santiago Otello Hanahan.
Jane was predeceased by her fourth child, James Madison Gardner Hunter, her husband, parents, and siblings, William Abel Gardner, Sidney King Gardner, James Madison Gardner, and Mary Gwin Gardner.
Jane grew up between Hartsville and Myrtle Beach where she worked in her mother’s Florentine Hotel. Many a South Carolinian will recall the Florentine logo with it’s stylized gondola. She had met the love of her life, Bill Hunter, when he was a lifeguard at Myrtle Beach and she was helping at the Florentine. Her brother Jimmy and others attempted to set up the two of them. That culminated in Jane informing Bill that she made a habit of jumping off the end of the pier once every summer. As a lifeguard and big man on the beach, his response that she would not do that on his watch and that he would have her arrested if she did. The next day when he was at lunch, someone stuck their head in the dining room to tell him, “Jane Gardner is fixing to jump off the pier!” Bill ran out and told her not to do it. Like a cat brushing objects off a table, she looked him in the eye and took her dive off the pier. He paced back and forth along the beach waiting to accost her when she eventually swam to shore. She didn’t. Jane swam just outside the breakers for hours while Bill paced. No one alive is sure how that day ended, but the next day was shaped by her peace offering of an ice cream cone.
Upon graduation from Coker College (where she would later return as a trustee) Jane moved to McBee, SC to teach school. She recounted that she thought that she had landed at the end of the earth and soon left for Atlanta and Delta Airlines where she was a stewardess – her preferred description that position. She said that serving passengers while wearing high heels in a DC 3 tail-dragger was a real challenge. The DC 3 has a 12º downward angle when on the tarmac, but was much more accommodating once in the air. In World War II when Bill was assigned to VMF 214 as a F4U Corsair pilot, she left Delta and married him in a home wedding at Hartsville. They moved to Laguna Beach in Southern California.
After their return to South Carolina, Bill went back to Clemson College, studying pre med and playing football. Jane was in the homecoming court while pregnant with Gwin. She taught 2nd grade while Bill studied medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. They ultimately made their home in Clemson and built Hunter Hall, completing it in 1959, two weeks prior to the birth of their 5th child. Note that after acquiring the property, they built the swimming pool two years prior to the house. She said that you need to put first things first. That pool was a great joy for her as well as a challenge. A Water Safety Instructor, Jane pulled over a dozen struggling swimmers to safety over her 50+ years. She was ever watchful of that pool and taught many to swim there. And she led the Girl Scout Swimming Badge challenge.
With the birth of her first grandchild, Jane Hanahan Swing in 1967, Jane Hunter became Lady Jane, and her grand daughter became Jane-Jane. Lady Jane was a gracious hostess who was always ready for the unexpected dinner guest at noon when Bill would bring home his more interesting patients. In fact, while channelling the Florentine’s gracious kitchen, she fed her husband’s entire graduating class of Clemson Agricultural College (1948) when he impulsively invited them to his house for dinner while at a reunion. She had two hours to prepare, but they all left filled with pasta and well satisfied.
She accompanied her husband on countryside house calls in the night, sometimes helping to deliver babies. There are a number of ‘Janes’ in our greater community, including Jane-Jane Hanahan Swing, Henley Jane Hanahan, Janie Kaye the daughter of her beloved Isabell Kaye, and many others. She was an accomplished pianist, champion swimmer – second in a statewide meet when she was 7 months pregnant, and loved to dance. Her sole line of Turkish was Dans etmek için nereye gidebiliriz? [Where can we go to dance?]. She loved to travel and did so throughout the world.
Jane sang alto in the Methodist choir, taught Sunday School, and cooked supper for the MYF. She was an accomplished bridge player, and a lover of horses. She rode long trail rides, right up until Blaze’s stumble caused a potentially dangerous neck injury, after which Blaze was quickly sold before Bill could catch up to him.
Jane and Bill raised their grandson Patrick who has autism. She became a fierce advocate for the education and acceptance of cognitively challenged children. She made a difference in educational recognition of the autistic community and in the state’s response to the needs of its most disadvantaged citizens. In 1990 she was recognized with the 3rd Annual Human Rights Award for Outstanding Service to Mankind.
A memorial service led by the Reverend Tommy Wilkes will be held Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at the Clemson United Methodist Church, 300 Frontage Road, Clemson, SC. A reception at the church will follow. Interment will take place at the Old Stone Church Cemetery following the reception and is open to all. If desired, remembrances of Jane in the form of donations to Clemson United Methodist Church, Episcopal Relief and Development, or Cottingham Hospice House in her name are welcome.
Visit RobinsonFuneralHomes.com or Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home & Cremations, Central-Clemson Commons.