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C. Stuart Hunt, longtime chairman of Hunt Real Estate Corp. Dec. 21, 1923 -- Sept. 27, 2005

C. Stuart Hunt, chairman of Hunt Real Estate Corp. and unofficial "dean" of the Western New York real estate community, died Tuesday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. The Snyder resident was 81.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Hunt graduated in 1941 from Bennett High School, where he was class president. He played on Bennett's football and baseball teams, and was a member of the 1940 Municipal Baseball League championship team.

Mr. Hunt earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Colgate University. But his college education was interrupted from 1943 to 1945, when he served in the Army in the European Theater during World War II. He returned to college, graduating in 1947.

A member of the Colgate hockey and baseball teams, he was also a class president and headed Sigma Chi fraternity and the Student Honor Society.

After graduation, Mr. Hunt returned to Buffalo and began his long real estate career as a residential agent with Hunt Real Estate, a business founded by his father. He is credited with founding the Multiple Listing Service in 1953, and he was elected president of the Greater Buffalo Board of Realtors in 1962.

Mr. Hunt was named the group's Realtor of the Year in 1985 and was awarded Realtor Emeritus status in 2000. In 2004, he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western New York Chapter of the New York Commercial Association of Realtors. Also that year, he was the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors' centennial honoree.

During his tenure as president of Hunt Real Estate Corp., Mr. Hunt engineered the company's growth from a single-office firm to a multi-office, regional business. As chairman, he oversaw the firm's continued expansion and transition into the next generation.

Buffalo businessman David Sweet, a contemporary of Mr. Hunt's who counted him as both a friend and competitor, described him as a "rare breed."

"He was one of those rare people that everyone liked and respected. You never heard anyone speak ill of Stuart. He was a tremendous businessman and wonderful person," Sweet said.

Mr. Hunt was also lauded as "Mr. Downtown" for his devotion to downtown Buffalo and its future. He served as president of Buffalo Place from 1994 to 1998 and continued to serve on the downtown service organization's board through late 2004.

"He was a downtown guy," said Buffalo developer Carl P.
Paladino, a fellow member of the Buffalo Place board. "He truly loved downtown Buffalo. He invested in it and had faith in it. His death is a great loss to our community."

Mr. Hunt's civic life included service on a number of boards, including the Boy Scouts Council, Salvation Army, Child and Family Services and Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center.

He was a lifelong member of Central Park United Methodist Church, where he served as a trustee and lay leader. He was also a member of the Country Club of Buffalo, serving on the board of governors and as its vice president.

He was a part-time resident of Venice, Fla., from 1985 until this June.

Mr. Hunt is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Jane Helfrich; a daughter, Kathleen of Kenmore; two sons, Stephen of Amherst and Peter of Buffalo; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Saturday in Central Park United Methodist Church, 216 Beard Ave. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.

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