Funeral service speakers note kind nature of officer

  • Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:08 a.m.
Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post Salisbury Police officers escort the flag draped casket of Sgt. Mark Hunter Friday following funeral services at Catawba College's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.
Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post Salisbury Police officers escort the flag draped casket of Sgt. Mark Hunter Friday following funeral services at Catawba College's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.

One of the fond memories Pfc. Robert Hunter has of his father, Salisbury Police Sgt. Mark Hunter, was one that elicited the most laughter from those who attended the longtime police officer’s funeral Friday at Omwake-Dearborn Chapel at Catawba College.

Mark Hunter served 14 years with the U.S. Army and was a police officer for 20 years. He served as a patrol officer, drug investigator and police sergeant.

As Robert Hunter placed his hands on the podium, he spoke about a man who was an older mirror image of him, with the kind of love only a son could evoke. Robert Hunter, who is in the U.S. Army now, told of how proud his father was when he graduated from basic training.

“Every time I made a move, he would say, ‘Got Tow Mighty that’s my son,’ ” Robert Hunter said as the whole chapel erupted in laughter.

Robert Hunter said his father worked hard and even slept hard. He recalled a time when he and his brothers were young and their father took them to a movie. He snored throughout the movie, but woke in time to laugh along with the audience as though he’d watched it all.

When people told him he looked like his dad, Robert would always reply that he didn’t. “But now when people tell me that, I take it as the greatest compliment,” he said.

He shared other humorous memories of his father and bid him a loving goodbye.

“You’re my hero. You’re my Superman,” Robert said, “Daddy, I love you.”

Friends spoke of Mark Hunter’s boisterous bravado, but more and more they shared stories of his kind nature toward children and his knack for creative vocabulary.

“He had a way with words,” said friend Dee Dee Wright.

“When he said he had to go ‘snickel snackel,’ that meant he was going to go eat,” Wright said.

Other words Hunter often used included “bellyacher,” which referred to a Sun-drop or a soft drink. Someone with dreadlocks had a “head full of snakes.”

Wright said she affectionately called Hunter “Sgt. Everything, because that’s what he said.”

She said Hunter was soft, but stern when he needed to be. On a day when there was plenty of turmoil going on in the world, April 18 will be remembered for the day a wife lost a husband, children lost a father, sisters and brothers lost a sibling and a city lost a protector, Wright said.

Hunter died last Thursday, April 18, of a heart attack.

Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Karen Biernacki recalled conversations she had with Hunter. Biernacki, a former Rowan County district attorney, said Hunter never wanted to hurt someone else’s child, but he would say he also had a family to return home to, she said.

Classmate Amy Bankhead said Hunter lived his life to the fullest and was a very loving person. Bankhead and Hunter graduated in 1979 from A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis. She said when it was time to take their senior class pictures, Hunter showed up in a white hat and a three-piece blue suit during a time when the weather was close to 90 degrees.

“I looked at him. I said, ‘pimp daddy,’ ” Bankhead said to laughter.

Hunter was a member of First Baptist Church in Kannapolis. He was also a member of the West End Community Center and as a K-9 handler was partnered with a black Labrador named Smoke.

Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins said at first Hunter wasn’t too fond of Smoke because of the breed of the dog. But Smoke was the officer’s best friend, Collins said.

When Collins promoted Hunter to sergeant in 2011, it brought the hard as nails officer to tears.

“He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I’m finally getting to do what I always wanted to do,’ ” Collins said.

Hunter was a leader before he was promoted, Collins said.

“He was loved as a co-worker, a community servant, friend and a brother,” he said.

Officers from around the area, their badges wrapped with black mourning bands, stood saluting the flag-draped casket as it was carried into the chapel. The procession of family and friends took nearly half an hour to reach the front of the chapel. Once seated, fond memories of Hunter followed a selection by son-in-law Gregory Luster and Clinton Luster. During the service, Rowan Magistrate Gloria Jones sang a stirring a cappella version of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Family, friends and people in the community who knew or served alongside Hunter filled the chapel as the bright sun pierced through the windows.

After the service, fellow officers gave a final salute as Hunter’s casket passed them.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook:

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