Front page material
A behind the scenes look at 'Capac Journalist'
|Doug and Juanita Hunter show their pioneer spirit at the Capac Historical Museum on Friday. Juanita is wearing and holding bonnets that date to the 1860s which were preserved by Dougís aunt Elisabeth Jamison. photo by Catherine Minolli.|
July 25, 2007Is it fair to put Doug Hunter's column head here when it's me, Catherine Minolli, who's filling this space right now?
I'll let you be the judge, as long as you keep reading.
In fact, that's why I put his column head here. Because I know you'll read it. Hopefully, you won't be sorry.
Many of you may know this but just in case, I'm here to tell you Doug Hunter is a stand-up guy. There aren't many people like him on the planet. There's way more than meets the eye when it comes to Doug, and all of it points in the same direction: He's a stand-up guy. He's a man of honor who honors his word.
Our professional relat-ionship began about eight months ago when he called me up somewhat out of the blue. Previously, I'd heard of Doug—knew nothing of his history, though, except that he was active in politics. A Democrat always stands out in this neck of the woods.
Doug told me about The Capac Journal which was founded by his great-grandfather Noble Hunter in 1887. The Capac Journal eventually became part of the Tri-City Times, and as late as the 1980s we still printed a 'Capac Journal' page in every edition.
Anyhow, Doug tells me about a promise he made to his father—Noble's grandson Allen—as he lay dying.
"Tell the story," Allen Noble Hunter whispered to his son. "Keep the history alive."
Doug says his dad was thinking a lot about Capac's 150th anniversary in his final days, and that's what spurred him to urge Doug to document the Hunter family legacy, whose roots stretch back four generat-ions to the pioneer days when Capac was just a swamp in the wilderness.
Doug tells me what he's thinking about doing—and tells me he must do it because he promised his dad—and I think it sounds great.
So with the help of his Aunt Elisabeth and Uncle Don Jamison, Doug begins pouring through ancient issues of The Capac Journal, through reams of notes and photos and through the yellowed pages of his great-grandfather's personal diary.
Through Doug's jour- ney it becomes clear to me that he's fulfilling his destiny. Doug is not only a gifted writer, he's a thoughtful, caring and hugely considerate man—traits that are a little surprising if you simply consider his robust stature and gravelly voice.
Doug was so concerned about getting the facts and details right—about not missing anyone's name, making anyone feel bad, making it seem like it was all about him. Doug was truly fulfilling a promise, a vow with all the reverence and commitment of a priest. He was nervous about how his writing would be perceived—unsure if it was any good or not and not exactly convinced when I told him to take my word for it. And guess what? I was right. In the six months that Doug filled this space, he got more letters and kudos than I've gotten in a year. He deserves every bit of it, too. And the feedback truly made his day. Ours, too.
Doug's not so serious outside the scope of his writing, though, believe me. Every time he walks into the office there's be some sort of joking around and the sound of his deep laughter that comes from his gut and lights up his face and everyone else's, too.
He gets a kick out of the simplest things and reminds everyone around him that life is funny—even when it seems like it's not.
Along with being a writer, Doug's a farmer, truck driver, political activist—something he's most proud of—husband, father, grandfather, community sounding board, history buff, and go-to guy when people want to put some-thing down on paper. In fact, some Capac residents went to him to do just that—for me. Back when all the controversy was brewing over the village manager and police chief and recall and whatnot, Doug told me some people came to him and asked him to write a letter to "ream you a new ..." but he declined to do so. Although he didn't know me personally back then, Doug knew about the newspaper business and said I was just doing my job—and that editors are entitled to their opinion, however unpopular it may be. They never held it against him, either, because that's how Doug is—a stand up guy. And now that he's let us in on his family history, it's clear where his pioneer spirit comes from.
Doug stood up to the court system, too—all the way to the Supreme Court and guess what? Doug Hunter set a precedent in labor law. Newsweek magazine did a write up about him for doing so. Doug is a believer in justice, a man whose sense of what's fair is honed sharp and he's not afraid to point it out by standing up for it. He's the guy people go to to right a wrong, to put wheels in motion for action, to make a difference through the power of the written word.
I suspect Doug can't help that. It's genetic. Part of his DNA, something he couldn't change or deny if he wanted to.
Throughout Doug's adventure I got to know his wife, Juanita, too. We finally met in person on Friday, but it was as if we'd always known each other. Over the telephone we became friends and allies, co-conspirators in rooting for Doug's success and revelers in the praise and connection from readers that followed.
Yes, Doug's a bit of a Renaissance man but he's not online yet. Doesn't even have a computer and doesn't seem like he's about to get one anytime soon despite my passionate pitch that he do so. Writing's a lot easier and quicker with one, as is research and the ability to communicate with others. Maybe he'll come around—maybe not. Doesn't matter. Juanita painstakingly transcribed Doug's longhand columns into 'legible' material—and she chose the excerpts from Noble Hunter's diary and The Capac Journal. Her contributions of time and effort added to the success of Doug's series.
Yes, when it comes to Doug Hunter there is definitely more than meets the eye. I'm so grateful I got to meet the man and see this for myself.
Email Doug at
Email Catherine at