Friends and family share memories of Drew Hunter

Drew Hunter and Jenna Seoane on the beach in Duxbury
Drew Hunter and Jenna Seoane on the beach in Duxbury

By Dana Forsythe
Wed Jun 17, 2009, 12:00 PM EDT

Marshfield – To his friends and family, Drew Brian Hunter was a beacon of inspiration, joy and love.
Hunter, a Marshfield High School graduate, died June 4 at age 29 after a kayaking accident in Vail, Colo. On June 8, he was remembered in an informal ceremony along the Black Gore Creek. Approximately 50 friends and family members gathered as they took turns singing songs, reading poems and carving messages and memories into a snowboard-shaped piece of wood.
The memorial — a horizontal piece of wood shaped like a snowboard mounted on a stake carved to look like a mountain peak — was placed a few feet from the site of Hunter’s accident. During the ceremony, when it started to snow, many of the gatherers said it felt as if Drew was looking down from above, having a bit of fun.
In his 1999 Marshfield High School yearbook, Hunter listed his goals as “to go to college, flight school, become a pilot, snowboard across the globe, travel to the ends of the Earth.” Within 10 years, he had met all of them, including traveling across the country from Marshfield to Daytona Beach, Fla., and then out to Vail.
After finishing high school in Marshfield, he attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in aviation, and later became an airline captain at Shuttle America. 
Always the outdoorsman, he followed his passion for snowboarding and moved to Colorado four years ago. According to friends and family, Hunter lived for the exploring the snow-capped mountains in Colorado.
0Every chance he got, he could be found tearing up the mountain on his snowboard in the powder,” wrote Hunter’s fiancée Jenna Seoane in an e-mail.
A month ago, along with Seoane, also an MHS 1999 graduate, Hunter backpacked through Peru, exploring Machu Picchu and the Andes. He listed it as one of the highlights of his life after the trip.
In his former classmate Seoane, Drew found a partner who shared his passion for life, adventure and outdoor sports. Seoane and Hunter reconnected by chance five years after he graduated high school. After college, Seoane was living in California and had recently decided to travel to Africa to do volunteer work. When she returned, she had planned on moving to Colorado to become a “ski bum.”
“Someone mentioned Drew was living in Vail, so I got in touch with him asking if he knew anyone needing a roommate. He said he didn’t,” Seoane wrote. “As I was getting on the plane to go to Africa, Drew called me and said his roommates had fallen through and he had an extra room for me if I wanted it. I moved in after four months being in Africa, and we became best friends before dating.  I played hard-to-get.”
Seoane said she picked up a greater sense of responsibility and gratitude for life just being around Hunter.
“Drew was my only and first true love. He taught me all there is to know about love:  the passion, the tr oubles, the sacrifices, the trust, the importance of each other’s feelings no matter how much you wanted it another way, and he taught me that when you find the right ‘one’ you feel it in your heart, and you caress it and cherish it, because it is a very hard thing to find,” Seoane wrote. “Drew helped to bring out the best of me; he protected me, and he loved me unconditionally.  (We) shared our deepest, funest (sic) and most real experiences and secrets with one another, and it was done so with trust.”
“He taught me to be positive no matter what the situation was,” she added. “He taught me that our own experiences together were unlike anyone else’s, and that we are lucky for that, that we didn’t have to live an ‘ordinary’ life, and that adventure and unconditional (love) is what we really wanted together.”
During their years spent in Colorado, the pair embarked on adventures every day they had together. 
“We were truly passionate about skiing, hiking, camping, biking, rock climbing, climbing 14,000-foot peaks in the Rockies, trying anything new and attempting to excel at it, and we were passionate about each other,” Seoane wrote.
Seoane said she and Hunter quickly bonded over their shared love of skiing and snowboarding.
“We had an absolute blast, and I could feel him becoming a best friend right before my eyes it was just happening,” she wrote. “He gave me an extra spark of light at the end of the night just when he made eye contact with me.”
In Vail, with Hunter’s friends from his Sigma Chi days in Florida, Seoane said a makeshift family formed.
“It became a family when Drew and I moved to a house on the river in Vail, where constant visitors and best friends stayed with us nearly every weekend,” she wrote.
In the last two years, Seoane said she and Hunter had planned out their lives — three children, a small house in Marshfield to be near their families when he was away flying and a small spot in Vail to visit and share when family and friends came to visit.
“We wanted to live on a sailboat; he wanted to build all the furniture in our homes, and we wanted to travel across the world, with and without our children, and later retire volunteering in Africa,” she said.
While Hunter thrived in the environment of the Rockies, he always appreciated Marshfield as his home, and his connections with friends and family remained strong. Hunter enjoyed frequent visits back home with his parents, Gail and Jeremy Hunter and his late sister Anjuli.
In December of 2006, Anjuli, Drew’s only sibling and younger sister, died in a car accident in Portland, Maine.
“Drew’s strength inspired=2 0me,” Seoane wrote. “He lost his sister just weeks before we met each other in Vail, and he thrived to get back into his life, return to his job as a pilot and get up on the mountain no matter how hard his heart ached. He talked to his ‘Mamacita’ nearly every day, comforting her after losing her daughter and exciting her with the adventures he was experiencing in his life.”
With the addition of Seoane to Hunter’s life, Gail Hunter felt that she had gained a new daughter.
“One of the best gifts Drew gave us was (Jenna),” Gail wrote in an e-mail. “When we lost Anjuli, we lost our only daughter. When Drew fell in love with (Jenna) and brought her into our lives, we truly felt we had gained a new daughter. We will always feel that way about her. We know how lucky he was to have found his soul mate, and how much he loved Jenna and spending the rest of his life with her. He was happy and in love with life. What more could parents want for their children?”
Looking back, Drew’s mother said she would always remember how happy her son was.
He was the happiest baby you ever saw…always smiling and always making us smile,” she wrote. 9 CHis sunny disposition matched his birthplace, Tortola, (in the British Virgin Islands). I could never stay mad at him; he hated having anyone mad at him.  He wanted everyone around him to be comfortable and enjoying themselves.”
With his mother, who he called “Mamacita,” and his father, also a pilot, Hunter shared his passions of flying and biking, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding and his new passion, kite boarding.
“He showed his love for us in so many ways, big and small, and he gave the best hugs,” Gail wrote. “I loved the way he would talk to me about almost anything, often to the discomfort of his friends. He was a source of comfort and strength after we lost his sister, Anjuli. He was a constant reminder that life was still precious and should be treasured.  A mother or father couldn’t ask for more from a son. He was a gift to us that brought us so much joy.  His enthusiasm and thirst for life was palpable and contagious.  He will be missed more than words can convey, but I can’t help but believe that he will somehow help us feel his spirit around us.”
For those Hunter left behind, many said they were comforted in knowing that he accomplished so much that he had set out to do. 
“Drew was a happy, kind, compassionate, motivating, and enthusiastic young man; his zest for life was contagious,” his mother said.
To his friends in Vail as well as in Marshfield, Hunter was a shining example of a person living for the moment.
“Drew always lived life to the fullest, following his dreams and achieving them, even at such a young age” said Meghan Richter, a fellow Marshfield High 1999 graduate and friend of Hunter’s. “He will forever be remembered as the fun loving, laughable, adventurous sweet person that he was, and he will be sorely missed but never forgotten. He put his heart into everything he did, and at least we can find some comfort in the fact that he died doing something he loved.”
Noel Coakley, one of Hunter’s friends throughout high school and college, said his friend had recently been talking about how loved he felt before his accident.
“He had been talking a bit about his friends, family, and future that week,” he said. “It’s nice to think that he felt loved.”
“He was a great friend, to all of us,” said another high school classmate and friend, Melissa Keough. “He was always there to give support and listen or just talk things through. I’ll miss the ski trips; we used to have so much fun and I don’t know who else would be able to convince me to go down such hard crazy trails!”
Derek20Loomis, one of Hunter’s closest friends, said he would always remember the life lessons his friend has passed on.
“He had a mantra of ‘Take risks and don’t live in fear,’” Loomis said. “I think that sums up Drew pretty well.”
Jason Kreisher, a fellow fraternity brother at Sigma Chi, knew Hunter through college, but didn’t become close to him until he moved out to Wyoming.
“I heard he was out there and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I got a job in Wyoming, bought a season (ski) pass and during the last two years, we made it to the mountains almost every other weekend,” Kreisher said. “He showed me stuff I wouldn’t have found or even attempted otherwise.”
When Hunter announced that he’d be taking a trip to Peru to climb mountains, Kreisher said it hit home how adventurous his friend was.
“He told me and I kind of shrugged it off, not because it wasn’t cool, but for Drew it sounded pretty normal,” he said. “He was always going off and doing stuff like that. Drew was also an eternal optimist, a glass-half-full type of guy. It was definitely good for me; he’d always be able to help me fill the glass up. Wherever he is now, he’ll be skiing fresh powder from now on.”
“Drew taught me that this time in life is just a raindrop in a puddle,” Seoan e said. “Drew and I knew from the bottom of our hearts that we had each found the one. I want him to know that I will be with him until that droplet of water in the pond spreads, so I may look into his eyes and thank him once more for the most passionate love I could ever ask for.”
 A celebration of Drew’s life will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 842 Tremont St. (Route 3A) in Duxbury. Family and friends have asked that people in attendance wear casual, bright-colored clothing.
—– Service Information—
Unitarian Universalist
842 Tremont St.(RT 3A)
Duxbury, Massachusetts
on fathers’ day Sunday June 21.
2:30 pm——-please no obligation whatsoever
After the s ervice, there will be a tea in the reception hall at the church, and then special friends and relatives back here. (54 Old Barn Path).    Probably 5pm on.  Lou got a tent.  Of course, you are all welcome.  Just find a parking spot somewhere in our development if you choose to drop by.  I have hired a policeman.
For those of you who do not know, Gail and Jeremy Hunter lost their only other beautiful child Anjoli just two years ago in a car accident involving black ice, no booze, no drugs, these two children were both golden.  I know Gail does not want to be reminded of this—“Sunday must be all about Drew”—she insists.  
Jenna insists wear casual
Thank you for your undying support.  Together, we are all survivors. 
Love you,
Jen’s address for now 54 Old Barn Path, Marshfield, Ma 02050
Gail and Jeremy Hunter, 23 Tanglewood Trail, Duxbury, MA 02332
and  email

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