Decatur, Illinois

Decatur, Illinois
Curve-In, Fairview Avenue

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Phil Hunt Dies

Phil Hunt in 1965

Phil Hunt, 65, has passed away.  His full obituary will be added later, when it becomes available, but for now, I wanted to pass on the news that he had died, which was shared with me by Millie Smith.

Phillip Lloyd Hunt's MacArthur Class of 1965 Senior entry told of his involvement in Baseball 1, 2; Track 3, 4; Band 1, 2; Big Mac Day 2, and Float Committee 4.

But Phil's life seems to have had nothing to do with anything mentioned in his high school yearbook.

As many of you know, Phil was a famous and respected model, magazine, and celebrity photographer, having done most of his well-known work for Macy's and independently, when he was in San Francisco. In the last few years, he concentrated on preserving photos, while living in Caledonia, Michigan. Early reports of his death tell of his sister, whom he lived with, finding him.
Phil once posted this photo above in tribute to a friend of his who had died. Phil's Vietnam and military experiences were not central to his life, but he certainly seems to have appreciated how his time there resulted in the path he would choose.

Once upon a time, Phil was interviewed by a cousin named Lisa for her blog. She asked,
"When and how did you first discover your interest in photography, and what made you decide to make a career out of it?"

Here is Phil's answer: 

I think it started when I was around 8 or 9 years old. My mother used to bring home Life and Look magazine. I was always so amazed by the incredible pictures of all the beautiful people inside. I loved the back cover most of all though…The Breck Girl stole my heart in 1955.
Twelve years later, I got drafted and spent a year in Hanau, Germany before I went to Vietnam. Marvin, a friend of mine, used to walk around town and take pictures of things he found interesting just for fun. I asked him one day why he did it. “Well”, he said, “I do it because I like it and someday, I might take a picture that will make me rich”. “How so?” I asked. “The Hindenburg”, he said. “The guy that took the picture of the Hindenburg exploding was paid $10,000 for that one picture!” I bought my first camera on payday later that month and have been taking pictures ever since.

Phil Hunt

One way to mediate on Phil's death, I felt, might be to look at his photographs. Many of them, which he shared on his Facebook page and at his website, look very familiar, seen via ads and remembered forever. 

For your consideration, and in tribute to Phil, this is a small selection of Phil Hunt's photographs:

Emporium Capwell Cover 1985

Rene Russo: Outtake From a Macys Jewelry Catalogue 1973

Christy Turlington: San Francisco Chronicle – Full page ad 1985

Macys Christmas Catalogue Cover 1973
William Rhodes: Date Unknown
Restored 2007

"It’s easy to lose track of your dreams. 
Try to find them again and if they are 
still important to you now is the time 
to start living them."
~ Phil Hunt

"This could be the time when your life
 is just beginning. Make the most of it." 
~ Phil Hunt


Dave Wooten said...

Thanks Loren, I am thankful I was able to reacquaint with Phil at the class reunion. We are all saddened and stunned by his sudden departure. I will miss the many humorous conversations we had this past year. Condolences to his friends and family.

Anonymous said...

i will have a posting about Phil later this week. He was my best friend for almost 50 years. We were able to get together for road trips in the past couple of years and were going to do one this year.
I have decided to write a eulogy for my buddy. When it is done I will post it. If any of you have anecdotes send them to

Thank you so much, I suspect he has already soared into heaven where he too, was able to reach out and touch the face of God!

Lisa Casas said...

Hello everyone, I am Lisa Casas, aka "Shellie" as I am known by my family members. Phil called me that as well. I have set up a Facebook Page where we can share information about any memorials that are upcoming, post memories, and in general just connect and bond over our friendships with Phil. This URL address should take you to the page. When you get there, just click "Like" and you can get any updates and will be able to post there yourself: If that doesn't link you to the page, go to your Facebook Search Box and type in "Phil Hunt Memorial Page" and you'll get there. Don't be afraid to share your memories and feelings about Phil and his death. It has been a shock. That is a given. Let it ALL hang out as you 60's people liked to say. You may also email me personally at