Frederick Douglass Hunter, 60, UPenn gourmet

Frederick Hunter
Frederick Hunter
Posted: June 07, 2012

Frederick Douglass Hunter was one of the most popular people on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

He fed the students and faculty.

As the chef in Penn’s dining service, his job was to keep the students and teachers who patronized the school’s cafeteria well-fed and happy. And he succeeded beyond their expectations. After all, it was a cafeteria, and cafeterias are not known for gourmet dining. But Frederick Hunter had a flair and a true love of cooking. He provided students with the nutrition they needed to cope with demanding professors — whom he also fed — and with tough exams and the other stresses of college life.

Frederick Hunter, who devoted 33 years to the Penn food-service department, a man who considered himself the king of barbecue at family gatherings, and a handyman always willing to help friends and family with household repairs, died May 26 of complications of a stroke and renal failure. He was 60 and lived in Southwest Philadelphia.

"He loved his job," said his sister Dorothy Hunter. "He loved cooking."

Students became his friends, and would hail him when they encountered him around the campus and stop and talk.

Family and friends savored his barbecue, which he doctored with a sauce of his own creation.

"He would say, ‘Taste this, taste this,’ " his sister said. "He was proud of his sauce. When some people complained that it was too spicy, he made two kinds, one hot and one not."

He cooked for the family, as well as at block parties on the 1600 and 1300 blocks of S. 54th Street, and picnics in Cobbs Creek Park.

When the family visited friends and relatives in other parts of the country, Frederick would cook there as well.

"When we got in the car to take a trip, he would put a Bible on the dashboard," his sister said. "He would tell us that God would be his co-pilot."

Frederick was born in Philadelphia to Ulmon Hunter and Eleanor Christian Hunter. He graduated from West Philadelphia High School and Philadelphia Community College, where he studied early-childhood education. He served in the Army Reserves.

Frederick was a Mr. Fixit for his family. Anyone with household problems had only to call on him for help. His favorite saying on those occasions was, "A little bubble, no trouble."

Then Frederick discovered the computer. He started out playing solitaire, then moved on to other games.

"This computer is addicting," he once complained to his sister.

"One day, he said, ‘I was up till 4 in the morning on this computer,’ " his sister said.

Although he wasn’t big on casino gambling, Frederick took his sister to Atlantic City and taught her how to play poker. He liked to play cards with his buddies. Pinochle was his favorite game.

Besides his sister, he is survived by a daughter, Alysha Hunter; a son, Douglas Hunter; another sister, Denise Hunter; and a special friend, Francine Patterson.

Services: 11 a.m., Friday at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, 58th and Vine streets. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Entombment will be in Fernwood Cemetery.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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