Community mourns death of philanthropist, former Falls News publisher

Was owner and operator of Falls News for 18 years

From Staff REPORTS Published:

Kathryn Motz Hunter, the editor and publisher of the Falls News in the 1950s and 1960s, died on Dec. 8 after a short illness.

"She had 87 1/2 wonderful years," Mrs. Hunter's daughter, Ann Durr, says. "She saw the birth of her grandchildren, loved to plan and attend parties, and traveled the world ­­-- I can't think of something she wished she would have done before she passed away."

Mrs. Hunter was born into the Akron business community. Her father, Clarence E. Motz, an attorney, bought into the Valley Savings Bank in 1927.

Before his death, her husband, John B. Hunter, ran the bank and a companion business, First Akron Corp.

While her husband ran the Motz "family business," Kathryn Hunter was busy starting her own. Hunter owned and operated two neighborhood weeklies, the Falls News (now owned by Record Publishing) and the Hudson Times, for 18 years.

Mrs. Hunter also went into the "family business." She was president of First Akron and chair of the board of Valley Savings. In 2002, she was named "Business Woman of the Year" by Inside Business. In 1998, she was the first woman to receive the "Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year Award" from the SME Association.

But that's only part of Mrs. Hunter's story. She also was a patron of the arts. She served on the board of trustees of the Ohio Ballet and the advisory board of WKSU. She also was a philanthropist, working through the Akron Community Foundation as a board member.

Durr says her mom was especially proud of being a recipient of the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award two years ago. "My mom was always a promoter of our local community," Durr says, "and dedicated to empowering women." Mrs. Hunter created and facilitated the first program in Ohio targeting adult women returning to work or school. Dorothy Markulis, the former editor of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press, says she took Mrs. Hunter's class at the University of Akron "and it changed the course of my life."

"She was a woman ahead of her time," according to Markulis, "a woman who opened doors for other women."

Chief organizer of the burial of the Cuyahoga Falls sesquicentennial time capsule in 1962, Mrs. Hunter re-entered the spotlight when she helped preside over the opening of that time capsule on Aug. 14 of this year as part of the city's bicentennial.

"It was a lovely day," Mrs. Hunter recalled about the 1962 burial in an August telephone interview with the Falls News-Press from her apartment at Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson.

"We had a big celebration," she said. "We filled the time capsule, then we had a parade from Broad Boulevard to Silver Lake Country Club and had a big luncheon there.

"I remember saying, 'If I'm around 50 years from now, they'll haul me out of some rest home,'" Mrs. Hunter said with a laugh. She was also present at the burial of the city's bicentennial time capsule on Aug. 31.

"She was wonderful to Cuyahoga Falls," Mayor Don L. Robart says, adding, "Anytime we needed her for anything, she was there … I will never forget the good deeds that she did for our community." For instance, when Valley Savings Bank wanted to do something special to celebrate its 75th anniversary, Robart recalls, Mrs. Hunter came up with the idea of sponsoring a free pancake breakfast at the high school prior to the Memorial Day parade. "This was supposed to be only a one-time event," according to the mayor. "[But] seeing the immense popularity of the event, I remember saying to her that day, 'Kathryn, we have to do this every year!' I'll never forget the look on her face. That is the last thing that she was considering. However, upon reflection, Valley Savings did sponsor the pancake breakfast for the next 10 years.

"She was a very special lady," Robart says, "and I will miss her very much."

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