In 1979, Martha Hunt was living in Roeland Park when a neighbor showed up at her door, battered and bruised by her abusive husband. Hunt took action, enlisting the help of the community to provide services for her neighbor.
But she didn’t stop there. In 1984, Hunt founded Johnson County’s first shelter for domestic violence victims, now known as Safehome.
On June 29, Hunt died at the age of 98, leaving a lasting legacy behind.
“She was an inspirational leader and had a real vision,” said Sharon Katz, executive director of Safehome. “She saved thousands and thousands of lives and will continue to.”
Hunt was a member of the Soroptimist International of Kansas City for 47 years and served as its president from 1973 to 1974. Hunt sat on the board of the Rose Brooks Battered Women’s Shelter in Kansas City and was a founder of the Shepherd’s Center, which originated in Kansas City.
In 2010 Hunt received the Kansas City Spirit Award for founding Safehome.
“She was very compassionate,” Katz said. “She had great perseverance. She knew how to get people together and get people involved.”
Hunt was the sales promotion manager for Vita Craft for 25 years. When she decided to retire, she worked for four months with her replacement, Sheri Sparks, who became a close friend.
“When she saw something that needed to be done, she just did it,” Sparks said.
Martha’s daughter, Susan Hunt, said that when she and her brother were kids, they were living in Brookfield, Wis. When her brother was ready to start preschool, Martha realized the area didn’t offer one. So she got one started.
“She just took charge,” Susan Hunt said.
At 32, Susan Hunt had just quit her job as a forensic chemist and decided to take the LSAT on a whim. After passing, her score was high enough to qualify her for a scholarship and admission to go to law school.
“I said to Mom: ‘I’m 32. I can’t go back to school. I have to get a job,’ and she said, ‘Yes, you can,’ ” Susan Hunt said.
Martha offered Susan her car and home to help her transition back to life as a student. She entered the University of Kansas law school in 1984 and is now practicing law in Kansas City.
“There was nothing my mother wouldn’t do to support you,” Susan said.