Sorry, your browser does not support JavaScript!
Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanical Garden

About Us: Delbert Nevin Hunter


Delbert Nevin Hunter

Sept 5, 1910 - Sept. 7, 2003

Delbert Nevin HunterIn July 2003, Delbert Hunter spearheaded an effort to restore the banks of the Rickreall Creek. The piles of rocks and sandbags along the creek were dubbed "Mount Hunter." Hunter died Sept. 7 after celebrating his 93rd birthday. Both Hunter Street and the Delbert Hunter Arboretum in Dallas are named in his honor. 

Obituary

by Polk County Itemizer-Observer

Delbert Nevin Hunter of Dallas died on Sept. 7 following a massive stroke on Sept. 5 while celebrating his birthday in Newport. He was 93.

He was born to Paul Leslie Hunter and Florence Palmer Hunter in Dallas.

He attended school in Dallas and graduated from Dallas High School in 1929.

Following graduation he went to work for the Oregon State Highway Department as a chainman on a survey party. One of the projects he worked on was the Mt. Hood Highway, straightening the old narrow highway that had been part of the old Barlow Pass that the wagon trains had used to cross over the Cascade mountains to get down to the Willamette Valley. He had also helped survey a new highway up the McKenzie River and was on the survey party that worked on the construction of the Willamette Pass Highway.

During the summer of 1931 he came up with the idea for a new type of road scraper and started working on the plans. By using a combination of three hydraulic cylinders, the machine was able to control the amount of cut and the angle of the cut. By putting wheels in back it was able to lift the load to travel and also to regulate the depth and angle of spread. This was the first road scraper to be controlled by hydraulic cylinders which made it a basic patent.

In the fall of 1931 he entered Oregon State College and was pledged by Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. He was studying engineering at Oregon State College when he was called to come back to Dallas to help run Guy's Hardware. He worked at Guy's and retired from there having worked in the store for more than 44 years.

On March 17, 1940 he married Madeline Sleppy of Newberg at the First Methodist Church in Salem.

He served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He was stationed in San Diego, Calif., Bainbridge Island, Wash., and Klamath Falls before returning home to Dallas.

He had a long history of giving to his community and was a councilman for 14 years on the Dallas city council. He was a longtime member of the City of Dallas Parks Board and had served as the parks board chairman for 29 years. He had also served as chairman of the Dallas Men's Garden Club and had served on the Dallas Cemetery District as well as being a member of many other community organizations. He was named Dallas First Citizen in 1970.

He had a dream of creating a display of Oregon plants at the south end of an undeveloped parcel at the south end of the roughly 40 acres of Dallas City Park. His vision of showcasing native plants and trees as part of the Dallas City Park came true when a group called Friends of the Delbert Hunter Arboretum formed in 1983 followed by the Dallas City Council naming the Hunter Arboretum Botanic Garden in his honor. The arboretum is located on the Rickreall Creek near a forest area of trails, rhododendrons, a miniature Japanese Garden and secluded picnic tables. Through his efforts over the years the Arboretum draws many visitors to the garden and the community. His inspiration and dedication made the arboretum and he remained active in its construction and growth until his health prevented it. He continued to visit and keep up with the Arboretum projects and was pleased to see the realization of a long hoped for project in restoring the Rickreall Creek bed near the Arboretum this past summer.

He was a member of the Dallas United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Madeline of Dallas; son, Douglas Hunter of McMinnville; daughter, Suzanne Rohde of Dallas; and two grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 11 at the Dallas United Methodist Church.

Contributions may be made to the Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanical Garden in care of Bollman Funeral Home in Dallas which is handling the arrangements.

Nature's Best Friend

Story by: Tom Henderson, Polk County Itemizer-Observer
Date Published to Web: 9/9/2003

DALLAS -- The flowers themselves lost a friend Sept. 7.

Delbert Hunter of Dallas died at the age of 93. Many people know the name.

Anyone who goes to Dallas City Park sees the Delbert Hunter Arboretum. It bears his name because he dreamed for years of a showcase for Oregon plants. His dream came true in 1983.

He left other legacies as well. Hunter Street street also bears his name.
John Hansen lives on Hunter Street. He remembers Hunter not as name on various plaques but as a friend and neighbor.

Hansen moved to Dallas 50 years ago with his wife, Ruth. Hunter was one of the first people he met. Ruth and Delbert remembered each other from grade school days.

Hansen eventually became president of the Friends of the Delbert Hunter Arboretum. Getting involved was never a choice when Delbert was around, he said.

His mere existence was insistence.

"Delbert has a vision for that arboretum," Hansen said. "He's the one that brought people together to volunteer to start cutting the blackberries and the brush.

"He was the guiding light."

Hunter, a native of Dallas, was more than just the arboretum. "He probably knew more of Dallas history than anyone living at this time," Hansen said.

Hunter died Sept. 7 following a massive stroke Sept. 5 while celebrating his birthday in Newport.

He graduated from Dallas High School in 1929. Following graduation, he worked for the Oregon State Highway Department as a chainman on a survey party.

He worked on the Mount Hood Highway, straightening the old narrow highway that had been part of the old Barlow Pass wagon trains used to cross over the Cascade mountains to the Willamette Valley.

In 1931, he entered Oregon State College but was called back to Dallas to help run Guy's Hardware. He worked at Guy's for 44 years, with time out to serve with the Marine Corps in World War II.

"What comes to mind with Del is 40 years of friendship, loyalty and service at Guy's," said Chuck Friesen, co-owner of the hardware store.

"He literally kept the 'locals' in well water. I remember many nights Del stayed late, helping people get their water needs back up and running."

No one will ever forget Delbert Hunter, Friesen said. "He was truly family and we loved him."

He served on the Dallas City Council. He led the Dallas Parks Board for 29 years. He also served as chairman of the Dallas Men's Garden Club and had served on the Dallas Cemetery District as well as being a member of many other community organizations.

He was named Dallas First Citizen in 1970.

"He was just a great person and innovator," said Hansen.

"He had a vision of what he wanted to have for Dallas and he was enough of a leader to get volunteers and get the work done."

Hunter could push people without them knowing they were being pushed, Hansen said.

"He wasn't a person to push on anything. He was a person who led. He would plant ideas and lead the way."