After a life of service to the Church, including 17 years as a seminary teacher and 30 years as a member of the First Council of the Seventy, Elder Milton R. Hunter died June 25, 1975, of congestive heart failure and other complications. He was 72.
Elder Hunter is survived by his widow, the former Ferne Gardner, six children, and ten grandchildren. Members of his family were with him when he died. He had been in poor health for the past few years.
Funeral services were held June 30 in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Speakers were President Spencer W. Kimball, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy.
Elder Hunter was born October 25, 1902, in Holden, Utah, a son of John Edward and Margaret Teeples Hunter, and a grandson of early Mormon pioneers who came to Utah from Scotland.
He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1929 and received his master’s degree there in 1931. That same year he married Ferne Gardner in the Logan Temple. Elder Hunter’s first job in education was principal of a junior high school in St. Thomas, Nevada. He later served as principal of junior high schools in Leamington and Lake View, Utah. In 1935 he was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of California. At that time he was teaching seminary for the Church in Provo, Utah, and his professors at the University of California encouraged him to take a position at a major university in his field of history. He declined, moving to Logan, Utah, to teach at the Institute of Religion.
Elder Hunter said he had decided while taking seminary in high school that “if I ever had the opportunity I should like to be a seminary teacher and devote my time and my entire life to teaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the opportunity came, he “gladly accepted, and in happiness undertook the work.”
While teaching in Logan, Elder Hunter was called to serve on the First Council of the Seventy; he was sustained April 6, 1945. His work as a General Authority took him to missions in many parts of the world. He also visited Mexico, Central America, and South America in studies of archaeological ruins and their relation to the Book of Mormon.
Elder Hunter wrote 23 books, principally on religious and historical subjects, and many articles, reviews, and papers. His book, Utah in Her Western Setting, was used for many years as a text in Utah schools and is now published in a revised edition, entitled The Utah Story. He has served as national president of Delta Phi Kappa, the returned missionary fraternity and was a cofounder of the New World Archaeological Foundation.
Despite his achievements in education, history, and other pursuits, Elder Hunter always considered his mission in the Church of prime importance. “I have always loved the gospel of Jesus Christ more than anything else in life,” he said. “I have continuously labored in the Church from my boyhood up, willingly and happily. The gospel and the opportunities to serve in the Church have been the greatest blessing and joy in my life.”