LAKE WYLIE -- Joe Hunter not only became a neighbor, but actually made neighbors of the community now moving on without him. Hunter died Thursday at age 82.
The oft-described "mountain man" and Southern gentleman first called Virginia home, then made his way toward Lake Wylie more than three decades ago. He worked in the textile business, but made a name for himself locally selling real estate.
"He sold property from the fireplace," said Sandee Wilkerson, whose husband John bought River Hills Realty in 1977, adding that the early days saw agents without offices. "Probably nobody sold more homes than he did."
Paul Roise, another long-time agent with the company now known as First Properties of the Carolinas, describes Hunter as knowledgeable and personable in his profession, caring and loyal in every aspect of his life.
"Joe was with the original River Hills royalty," Roise said of the 30-year senior agent, adding Hunter even brought those same characteristics to his eight-year fight with cancer. "He fought this thing brilliantly. He never complained."
The Rev. Bruce Jones, a friend of Hunter and also officiant at his memorial service Monday, spoke of a man who loved to sail on Lake Wylie, hunt birds and spend time in the mountains he loved. Jones described a man who lost his first wife in 1972, but then married his childhood sweetheart, Sue.
Yet when more than 100 people came to pay tribute to his father Monday, son Joe Hunter found no need for relying on words to depict the man.
"He was the most wonderful, kind, caring, loving father, and was always there for me when I needed him," Hunter said. "My father's life speaks for itself."
Whether in faith -- Hunter served as head usher at River Hills Community Church -- or in business, in his relationship with friends or his service to neighbors, Joe Hunter will be long-remembered. Most of all, Jones said, the man whose business and passion was to make neighbors of so many will be remembered for the way he treated them once he did.
"Simply put," Jones said, "he was one of God's great gentlemen. To the best of his ability, he loved his neighbors as himself."