Editorial: Aiken County always came first to Scott Hunter

September 30, 2018

One role of a local newspaper is to tell a community’s story. Another is to point out areas for improvement. While publisher of the Aiken Standard, Scott Hunter not only saw to those requirements, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work to make Aiken a better place to live.

Hunter, who retired as publisher in 2013 after a quarter century of heading the Aiken Standard, passed away on Tuesday leaving a lasting legacy in his adopted community.

As a leader with an eye on local news, he provided his staff with the resources needed to do the job of reporting Aiken County. In perhaps the county’s largest disaster during Hunter’s time, the 2005 Graniteville train wreck, he was instrumental in providing the extensive news coverage of the event in which nine were killed, more than 200 were treated for chlorine gas inhalation and an entire town was evacuated.

Despite the additional financial cost, he increased the number of pages in the paper for an extended time and provided for a special section on the wreck and its aftermath. It was award-winning coverage, but when it came time for the accolades, Hunter stepped aside and pointed to his staff as those responsible for informing the community. That was his way.

He seriously took on the responsibility of serving his community beyond the pages of the newspaper. His involvement in organizations that included the Rotary Club of Aiken, ACTS, Children’s Place, United Way of Aiken County and the Child Advocacy Center was not merely on paper. Hunter was active in those groups and many more during his 45 years in Aiken.

Peggy Ford, executive director of Children’s Place, said what others in the community have echoed. “He was always actively involved in making our community a better place for everyone, especially those who were in need,” she said.

His was not just a name on the corporate letterhead. If he was on the board of an organization, he was on board with its mission and worked to make it successful.

While he was determined to make the newspaper a profitable enterprise, Hunter was vitally interested in those who worked with him. Many of his staffers recall the daily rounds of the building he took, stopping to talk to each one and taking a genuine interest in, not only their work, but also their lives beyond the walls of the newspaper building.

His was a quiet leadership style, and Hunter practiced what he implored others to do – treat everyone with dignity and respect. He did just that to the rich and powerful who walked through the Aiken Standard’s front door, and he did that to the poorest and most humble who he came across in the community.

Aiken is saddened by the loss of Scott Hunter, but it is a far better place because he decided to make this his home.

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