May 23, 2005
Dear Friend in"51,
I sadly report the death of Leslie Price “Tom“ Hunneman of Underhill, Mass. He passed away peacefully surrounded by family May 9, 2005, following a long battle with diabetes, kidney disease and stroke. Tom was born in Boston, Massachusetts, February 27, 1928. After losing use of his right leg to polio at the age of 16, he made his way around campus in a wheel chair. Yet he was active in numerous college activities, including the Flying Club. He moved on to graduate with honors from Amherst and the Wharton School of Business.
Remarkably, he became the first disabled helicopter pilot licensed in the Northeast U.S. and he went on to a successful career in the aerospace and computing industries. He retired to Underhill in 1990. He is survived by his wife, Erika; his children, Heather, Leif and Price; and nieces and nephews.
If you would like to call Erika or send her a note of condolence, her address is 600 Poker Hill Road, Underhill, VT 05489 and her phone number is (802) 899-5459. The family photos provide a touching remembrance of Tom and his family for us.
Best Regards, Dave Fulton
|Memories of TOM and ERIKA and the Hunneman family a few years ago and much earlier.|
Though I have not communicated with Tom in the past 50 odd years, I feel it necessary to add a few footnotes to a life beset by a stroke of bad luck and a trait of persistence and good humor relating to that bad luck. Tom and I shared two years at Westminster School, a prep school in Simsbury CT, four years at Amherst College, and a single night of drinking in the late 50's at the old German-American Club on Third Avenue, New York City.
In the fall 1945 at Westminster both Tom and I spent time in the school infirmary with what was thought to be some sort of flue-like illness. I left the infirmary a few days later with no ill effects, but Tom, and others, student and faculty, ended up with polio. Tom lost the use of both his legs, after having played both football and ice hockey. He returned to Westminster the next year where we completed our senior years. Since both of us applied and were accepted at Amherst College, we decided to room together. The college assigned us a room in Morrow, first floor south, an isolated enclave, where we enjoyed solitude and the extra perk of female guests, a practice then frowned upon, but we did it anyway. Tom could stand on his paralyzed legs, in braces, but that was all. He swung across campus on his Canadian crutches, and for longer distances drove a three wheeled motor scooter with a large lidded box on the rear for books and stuff. This took him everywhere including Northampton and Smith College, nine miles off, where often I joined him as a passenger. (That was a cold ride!) Tom never used a wheel chair. I never saw him in a wheelchair. That wasn't Tom. Not at all. After freshman year, our paths diverged, different fraternities, interests, and the rest, and we pretty much lost contact, except for a phone call. This led to a night of drinking and many pitchers downed. Then Tom glided to the curb, lifted a crutch high in the air to hail a taxi, threw me a caustic grin and a rough embrace, unlatched the knee catch on his leg brace, folded himself into the taxi, and was gone. So those are the footnotes. I never saw or spoke to him again. I guess that's OK. Memories, strong memories linger, even the sound of his voice. So that will have to be enough. I'll take that, old friend.