Found-sound documentarian Don Hunter has died at his home in Eugene, according to a family obituary in today’s Register-Guard. He was 101.
Hunter, whom I met and interviewed in 2003, was a grown-up version of the smart, geeky kid who ran the audio-visual stuff in high school — except that he did it on a grand scale, founding the University of Oregon’s audio-visual department in 1947 and running it for 30 more years.
Fascinated by the ability to record sound, Hunter recorded everything: The sound of light switches snapping. The sound of chain saws in the woods. The sound of a telephone operator saying, “Number, please?”
He knew all those sounds would one day vanish, and wanted to preserve them for the future. “I loved getting out and getting the sounds of nature,” he told me. “And I especially loved sounds that were disappearing.”
Hunter was also an accomplished photographer, and was giving slideshow presentations with sound added in, often about the Oregon landscape, before the term “multimedia” had even been invented.
A service will be held at 2 p.m. June 10 at Central Presbyterian Church.