Alan Reeve Hunt, 1929-2007 Kendal founder was champion for the elderly

Posted: June 10, 2007

Alan Reeve Hunt, 77, a lawyer who spent a lot of time improving the quality of life for the elderly, died of a progressive nerve disorder May 28 at Kendal at Longwood, a retirement community in Kennett Square he helped found more than 35 years ago.

Mr. Hunt grew up in Swarthmore and graduated in 1947 from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. He earned a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in 1951, a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1954, and a master's degree in tax law from Harvard University in 1955.

In 1955, Mr. Hunt joined the Philadelphia firm Duane Morris, where he spent more than two decades. In the 1980s, he joined Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, where he specialized in trusts, estates and health care.

His involvement with Kendal - which encompasses 14 life-care communities with more than 2,800 residents in the region - began in 1971 when Quakers from the West Chester Meeting approached him about setting up a life-care community on a farm in Kennett Square. At the time, Mr. Hunt was chairing a committee on aging of the Philadelphia Yearly Committee of the Society of Friends.

He directed fund-raising to acquire the property, found the architects and the builders, and hired a chief executive officer.

According to the not-for-profit organization, its mission is to create and support communities that provide for the physical, recreational, spiritual and medical needs of older adults.

The first residents moved into Kendal at Longwood in 1973. Mr. Hunt remained on the board of Kendal Corp. for 34 years and served as chairman from 1978 to 1998.

Mr. Hunt married Margot Bowie in 1960. Their parents had been longtime friends. The couple settled in Swarthmore, and he concentrated on his legal practice and she cared for their two sons.

Mr. Hunt was known as an expert on Fifth Amendment rights. In 1957, he wrote a 32-page study that urged Quakers to "make no automatic and unthinking assumptions of guilt" about those who invoke the Fifth Amendment when appearing before congressional committees. During the McCarthy era, many witnesses who had invoked the Fifth were fired by their employers.

In the 1980s, Mr. Hunt was a leader of the "Untie the Elderly" movement, which sought to eliminate restraints in long-term-care settings. In 1989, he testified at a U.S. Senate symposium on the subject.

Outside of work, Mr. Hunt enjoyed vegetable gardening, hiking, and mountain climbing in Wyoming, where he and his wife owned a log cabin. He sang with a barbershop quartet in college, and later sang with the Mendelssohn and Orpheus Clubs in Philadelphia.

He was a distance runner and won races in his age category in his 60s, his wife said.

In 2005, the year he retired from Kendal's board of directors, the Hunts moved into the retirement community.

In addition to his wife of 47 years, Mr. Hunt is survived by sons David and Bruce.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium at Kendal at Longwood, 1109 Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square.

Memorial donations may be made to the Kendal Employees Fund, Kendal at Longwood, Box 100, Kennett Square, Pa. 19348.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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