Gertrude Hunter Was Pioneer in Medical Education

Gertrude Cora Teixeira Hunter, a pioneer in medical education and public health administration, died at home surrounded by family in Silver Spring, Md., on March 12, almost one week before her 80th birthday.

Gertrude, the beloved daughter of the late Carrie and Antonio D. Teixeira, was born in Boston and raised in Wollaston. Her father, in addition to being a professional chef, was a successful restaurant owner in Boston and food distributor in New England during the first half of the 20th century. Her family first came to Martha's Vineyard in 1940, and shortly thereafter they purchased a home on Pacific avenue in Oak Bluffs. As a youth, she spent many summers on the Vineyard with her parents and siblings.

She was graduated from North Quincy High School. During her third year at Boston University, she was accepted to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she received her doctor of medicine degree in 1950. While in medical school she met Charles H. Hunter, a classmate, and they were married in 1952; he went on to become a radiologist.

Gertrude completed residency training in pediatrics at Homer G. Philips Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., and Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C. In 1965 she became the first national director of health for Head Start, and was instrumental in implementing the first national comprehensive health program for preschool children. After almost 20 years in Washington, in 1971 she moved to Auburndale to become the regional health administrator for the U.S. Public Health Service in Boston, serving the six states of New England. While serving in this capacity, she approved the building of the current Martha's Vineyard Hospital. In 1976 she returned to Washington, D.C., to become professor and chairman of the new department of community health and family practice at Howard University College of Medicine. After retiring from Howard in 1988, she became founder and president of the Human Services Educational and Research Institute, Inc., in Washington.

Gertrude served on numerous committees and boards, as a member of several professional organizations, and taught at several institutions including Northeastern University and Harvard College. Her honors and awards include Alpha Omega Alpha and Kappa Pi Honorary medical societies; commissioner on the D.C. Commission for Women; honorary doctorate of humane letters, University of Maine; the Image Award of the Martha's Vineyard NAACP, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

While her professional accomplishments were significant, her greatest sense of fulfillment was found in her marriage to Dr. Charles Hunter, and the raising of their six children. Even with her demanding career in medicine, she always found time to be a loving and caring mother.

She was a summer resident of Oak Bluffs for most of her life, enjoying special time with family and friends. On the Island, she was a 40-year member of the Cottagers, Inc., and participated in the Nathan Mayhew Seminars. Gertrude was always willing to engage in stimulating discussion on numerous economic, political and social issues. She was always available to provide support and encouragement, to listen and give thoughtful advice when requested, and to have a hearty laugh with good company. Gertrude and Charles were entertainers extraordinaire, hosting countless memorable parties and barbecues at home and on the Island's beautiful beaches. She also enjoyed gourmet cooking, golf and spending time with her grandchildren. In 2002, Gertrude and Charles celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in grand style on the Vineyard.

Her memory will be cherished by her husband of 54 years, Dr. Charles H. Hunter and her six devoted children - Antoinette Reynolds and Charlotte Hunter, both of Silver Spring, Md., J. Blaine Hunter 2nd and his wife, Christine, of Bridgewater, N.J., Jacquelyn Hunter Jackson of Washington, D.C., Barbara H. Sanders and her husband, Charles, of White Plains, N.Y., and Cheryl Hunter Anderson and her husband, Lawrence, of Thousand Oaks, Calif. She is also survived by her sisters, M. Teixeira Nash of Oak Bluffs and Washington, D.C., and Carolyn Jackson of Oak Bluffs, and her brother, Antonio Teixeira Jr. and his wife, Constance, of Vineyard Haven. She is also survived by her loving grandchildren - Teixeira, Sarah, James, Nia, Jamil, Kunle and Lars.

Donations may be made in her memory, in the name of Dr. Gertrude Teixeira Hunter, to the Martha's Vineyard NAACP, P.O. Box 1513, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.