A Union Built on Charity
Darrel and Mary Louise Hunter talk about charitable instincts, being part of an organization that takes care of its own, and the gift that that’s the greatest of all.
Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Louise and Darrel Hunter met at a church youth gathering, fell in love, and married within months. They were 19 years old. There were many things that drew them together, of course. One was a shared charitable instinct.
“We both grew up in families with just enough to get by, yet that always found a way to help those in need,” explains Mary Louise, “whether it was driving somebody to church or the grocery store, or doing odd jobs.”
“For both families, giving was part of our DNA,” Darrel agrees.
Darrel became a Mason in the 1980s. He and Mary Louise joined Eastern Star, and Mary Louise began a 19-year engagement playing piano for a Rainbow assembly. Darrel became a lodge leader: He is past master and current secretary of Chico-Leland Stanford Lodge No. 111, and former district inspector. He served seven years on the Masonic Homes Endowment Board, and can still rattle off trivia about the original Union City Home. When he imagines the 3,000 Masons who climbed the hill on its dedication day, his voice takes on a dreamy tone.
Giving remains in the couple’s DNA. Among many charitable endeavors, they are long-time donors to the fraternity’s annual fund.
“For 100-plus years, the Masonic Homes has cared for our own,” Darrel says. “And now, Masonic Outreach Services has drastically reduced the financial burden on lodges to care for aging members and widows. We want to support that. So whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday, it’s just better to make a donation to our Masonic charities than to buy something else that needs dusting.” (“Or finding a place for!” chimes in Mary Louise.)
“It makes my chest swell with pride,” Darrel says, “to be part of an organization that takes care of people the way the Masons do.”