James Chancy Hunter was born on April 8, 1950 to Harold and Vivian (Braem) Hunter. Named after his grandfathers, Jim was a 1968 graduate of St. Croix Central High School. Growing up on the family farm in Kinnickinnic township near Roberts, WI, he participated in 4-H, with dairy heifers and photography his main projects, one year winning a calf in a state-wide contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Milking Shorthorn Breeders Association.
But his primary interest was music. He began piano lessons at age eight, and playing trombone and sang in the choir in school. He played keyboards in rock bands throughout his life, beginning in high school, later teaching himself to play the harmonica. At the time of his death, he was a long-time member of a rock band called “The Difference,” as well as a worship team at City Light Church in Chico, CA.
Jim also wrote lyrics and music for many rock and blues pieces, both secular and Christian. He once wrote a piece attributing his love of music to his father, who had played in a dance band in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and honoring his mother for seeing that the family got to church every Sunday.
Jim was confirmed at Ezekiel Lutheran Church in River Falls. He later became involved with the River Falls Assembly of God church and the non-denominational Christian organization, The Navigators, at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In his own writings, he said Ezekiel had given him foundational knowledge of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, but then “in 1970, my faith changed from something I had been taught to something personal.”
A childhood visit to a great uncle who was a serious “rock hound” awakened Jim to the world of geology. So he studied earth science education as well as music at UW-River Falls.
Upon graduating in 1976, he was hired to teach junior high science at a Chippewa-Cree reservation at Box Elder, Montana. The following year, he moved to northern California to teach at a private Christian school in Durham. When his teaching job ended, he worked at a variety of jobs until being hired by the Salvation Army in Chico. He worked at their store and warehouse about 18 years, until retirement.
In 1993, he married Kathy Walker in Chico. Unfortunately, the marriage ended after about five years. There were no children.
For the past 10 years, he has sponsored a boy in Burkina Faso through the organization, Compassion International. In 2018, he was able to meet the boy on a Compassion-sponsored tour, and returned to Africa the following year on a similar trip. He was even able to share his music with a Burkina Faso church worship group.
Jim was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-January. His ultimate healing came on Jan. 26, 2021 at his home, in the presence of Jesus.
Survivors include his sister Kathleen of Roberts, several cousins all in the St. Paul area, and his former in-laws with whom he remained close.
A memorial service was held March 13 at his church in Chico, CA, followed by a graveside service and interment June 23 at the German Settlement Cemetery in Troy township, WI, a few miles from his childhood home. O’Connell Family Funeral Home of Hudson was in charge of arrangements.