ECB Publishing, Inc.
Fran Ott Hunt, a former longtime reporter for the Monticello News and Jefferson County Journal, died peacefully in her home on Saturday, November 21.
Hunt, 61, suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had been largely homebound for the last several years.
Hunt worked as a reporter for the newspaper for a couple of years in the late 1980s, before joining the Jefferson Correctional Institution (JCI) as a correctional officer in the early 1990s. Hunt’s heart, however, remained with the newspaper business, and upon her departure from JCI about 12 years later, she returned to news reporting.
Former Monticello News Publisher Ron Cichon, who gave Hunt her first reporting job and who rehired her after her JCI stint, remembers that his first encounter with Hunt was when she came to the paper asking him to review several chapters of a book that she was writing.
Cichon says that the upshot of his review of the chapters and subsequent comments was that Hunt came to work for the paper as a reporter.
“I can say that she was a good reporter and wrote some very good stories,” Cichon says of her two stints with the newspaper when he was publisher. “She was faithful to the task at hand and covered county government and the news in general and made a significant contribution to the publication during the years that she was there.”
In 2007, Cichon sold the newspaper to Publisher Emerald Greene Parsons, with Hunt still on the staff.
“Fran was one of the most dedicated employees I’ve ever had,” Parsons says. “She never complained about working or doing extra work; she came to work every day and she worked hard. There was never a stone left unturned when she wrote a story; for she dug in with everything she had and tried to write the best story she possibly could. She loved her daughter and grandchildren with her whole heart. To know Fran was to love her. She was definitely one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed on this earth.”
An adherent of the old school of self-reliance, Hunt had a pioneering spirit. She and her husband, Al, who preceded her in death, built their house from the ground up in Aucilla Shores, where she resided for years.
Hunt left the Monticello News about 2015 for health reasons. She then returned to her native state of Michigan to be with a brother. But after a while up north, she missed her friends and family in Jefferson County and returned to be near her daughter, Alfa, and her family.
Not long after her return, Hunt moved onto land close to Debbie Snapp, a newspaper coworker and friend.
“She came to help me with the sanctuary,” Snapp says, referring to the nonprofit cat refuge that she operates on her property. “Fran loved animals and she helped me take care of the cats, especially the kittens, as she was home all day. She was a really good friend. Everybody in Jefferson County loved Fran and her stories. She was a good friend to everyone.”
Indeed, it’s the general consensus that Hunt had a good heart, despite her tough exterior and sometimes gruff ways.
Hunt is survived by her daughter, Alfa Lingle, her husband, Adam, and three grandchildren: Addison, four; Aubrey, two and Zachary, six months. Another grandchild is on the way.
There are no services planned at this time.