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Kyle Hunter (1954-2019)

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Kyle Hunter with World Cup tickets from the 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A “born journalist” who spent decades at The Royal Gazette has died, aged 65.

Kyle Hunter, whose career with the Gazette began in 1974 and spanned news, sports and photography, died at home in St George’s on Friday surrounded by his loved ones.

He reported unflinchingly on his experience with cancer, which was diagnosed three years ago.

He wrote: “One of the first things I decided when it became apparent I had cancer and would have to go through treatment was: I am not going to feel sorry for myself. Just suck it up and get on with it.”

His brother, Scott Hunter, and sister-in-law, Janet Kemp, recalled him as “devoted to his family and a great companion”.

Mr Hunter, a graduate of Warwick Academy and Miami Dade College, happened upon his lifelong trade when he started as a reporter when he was 20.

Reporters in those days worked on typewriters and were expected to take their own photographs. Sports photography became one of Mr Hunter’s hallmarks.

Decades later, generations of reporters past and present would join friends at his home for the night of the Bermuda National Trust Walkabout, an annual fixture.

Dexter Smith, the Editor of The Royal Gazette, said yesterday: “Those who are closest to Kyle knew this day was coming, but that makes it no less sad.

The Royal Gazette mourns the loss of one of its favourite sons.”

He called Mr Hunter “an accomplished storyteller, in print and in closer quarters” with a keen eye for a photograph and flair as a page designer.

Mr Smith added: “But what he may be best remembered for is his loyalty as a friend and for being an essential conduit for reporters who were new to Bermuda.

“Those many friendships built and sustained over the decades are inarguably his greatest legacy.”

Bill Zuill, a former editor, said: “If there was such a thing as a hall of fame for Royal Gazette characters, Kyle Hunter would have been elected in the first class of entrants.

“Indeed, he was such a fixture at the Gazette that it is still hard to imagine 2 Par-la-Ville Road without him, even though he retired when the cancer that ultimately took his life, and the associated treatments that went with it, made it impossible for him to continue working.”

Mr Hunter, a fervent believer in independent media, “knew a good story when he saw one”, and could write to order under a tight deadline.

Mr Zuill also commended his editorial instincts, particularly for the power of photographs to convey a story.

“But Kyle was much more than that. His sense of humour, his directness, his unashamed lack of political correctness and his joy for life made the newsroom a better place.

“He also took great care with younger reporters, giving them practical advice and listening to them when they ran into difficulties.

“He did not suffer fools gladly, but he gave freely of his time to those who were willing to work hard and to become better.”

Mr Hunter loved sports, especially football, and keenly supported Manchester United and the Miami Dolphins.

He was also a tennis player, golfer, rugby player and equestrian.

Along with travel, Mr Hunter loved music. As a guitarist and songwriter, he played in the Small Axe Band during the 1980s, and recorded songs.

Mr Zuill said: “Kyle did not live to work — he worked to live, and on his own terms.”

He recalled that Mr Hunter left the Gazette at least twice to travel the world, returning with stories to share at nearby bars such as the Lobster Pot and M.R. Onions after the paper had been put to bed.

Mr Zuill said: “Perhaps because he lost both of his parents when he was young, I believe family was the most important thing of all to Kyle, especially as he got older.”

He added: “Finally, Kyle showed extraordinary courage when confronted with his own mortality. Many people fall apart when they learn that they have little time left to live. If Kyle ever fell apart, he hid it very well. He fought the disease for as long as he could, but accepted his fate, as we all must do.

“I will never forget his bravery. It is a lesson to us all.”

Football legend Clyde Best, who wrote a sports column with Mr Hunter, said his death was “a huge miss, for the country in general — he was one in a million”.

The pair travelled together to watch matches overseas.

Mr Best said: “Kyle was fantastic. He was somebody I would always look up to, who gave me my first taste of life in the newspaper.

“He did a good job. Kyle was an avid football fan who really knew what was going on in that crazy world.”

Friend and veteran journalist Adrian Robson, who worked with Mr Hunter throughout his career, hailed him as “a larger-than-life character, lively, humorous and loyal”.

Mr Robson added: “Kyle was kind, considerate and generous — and at times a belligerent pain in the backside. But you just couldn’t break friendship which had lasted for more than 45 years. He was so much more than a colleague.

“I started at the Gazette at the age of 21, and less than a year later, he joined me at the age of 20. For 40 years we worked together and were always in contact even when I ventured overseas to take another post.

“Poor health forced him to take early retirement, but we regularly met for coffee or something much stronger.”

He said Mr Hunter started as a sports reporter before becoming sports editor at the Mid-Ocean News.

He later switched to sub-editor before becoming a supplements editor.

Mr Robson added: “That provided another challenge. He organised the annual Baby Contest, somewhat out of character. He would have preferred to handle an annual Babes Contest.

“There’s no doubt he’ll be missed. He was one of a kind.”

Chris Gibbons, a former sports editor of the Mid-Ocean News, said Mr Hunter had befriended him on his arrival in 1982.

Mr Gibbons said: “We’ve been friends ever since and that, to me, is the legacy that epitomises Kyle.”

He added: “He was a genuine and generous spirit and irascible too, always ready for a laugh, which made him the unique character so many people took to immediately.

“He was a fine feature writer and photographer in his time at the Gazette, especially when he was working on Sports or Lifestyle in the 1970s and 1980s. Underneath his freewheeling, post-hippie façade, Kyle was a born journalist who worked hard not only at his own craft, but on ensuring standards were upheld by those around him.”

He said Mr Hunter had been “far more creative and talented” as a musician than many realised — but modest about his gifts.

Bob Amesse, a friend, travelling companion and former sub-editor, wrote: “I doubt that Kyle Hunter will be any different in the great beyond than he was on this mortal coil.

“Kyle left us on Friday night and left an indelible imprint on all of us with a legion of legendary stories from his larger-than-life persona.”

Mr Amesse highlighted Mr Hunter’s fondness for Black Seal and Coke, his favourite drink, and added that he could be “irascible and blunt, but full of uncommon goodness”.

Patrick Singleton, a former Olympian and chief executive of the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, said Mr Hunter was “a tremendous supporter of young Bermudian athletes and of local sports”.

Mr Singleton added: “If there was a World Cup, Kyle would try to be at every game. At the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Kyle was there in the freezing cold mountains to support me in the Olympic luge event.”

He said: “Today, on the 125th anniversary of the International Olympic Committee, and on the grounds of the brand-new Olympic House, which was opened this morning in Lausanne, Switzerland, I was able to say a little prayer to my friend Kyle Hunter, to tell him that we won’t turn our backs on Bermuda athletes and that we will continue to support them.”

A celebration of Mr Hunter’s life will be shared with friends and family.

Devoted to family: Kyle Hunter with nieces Christie Hunter Arscott, right, and Risa Hunter Frith (Photograph supplied)
Kyle Hunter, a longstanding reporter and editor, cracks a characteristic smile in the workplace (Photograph supplied)
Kyle Hunter at one of his well-liked watering holes with friend Michelle Amesse (Photograph supplied)
Kyle Hunter, right, with brother Scott Hunter and close friend Duncan Hall at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (Photograph supplied)
Scott Hunter, left, with brother Kyle Hunter and friends Bonnie and Duncan Hall, during a 2010 visit to South Africa (Photograph supplied)
Kyle Hunter, right, with his brother, Scott (Photograph supplied)
Kyle Hunter, right, at the first Bermuda Festival in 1975 (Photograph supplied)