Dorothy F. Hunter, who during 30 years cared for more than 140 foster children, raising five of them as her own in a West Baltimore rowhouse, died Saturday of a heart attack at her Reisterstown home. She was 74.
Mrs. Hunter, who also had five natural children and took in a relative's child, had lived in Reisterstown since 1979, but for 33 years lived in a small rowhouse in the 2700 block of Presbury St., a house neighbors recall as being "lively and always full of love."
"Theirs was the kind of place where there surely weren't too many dull or quiet moments," said Glory Samuels, a neighbor who lived on nearby Ashburton Street. "Everyone there always seemed so happy."
The wife of a minister and a devout churchwoman, Mrs. Hunter began accepting foster children in 1948 and took in her last in 1994. The youngsters' ages ranged from infants to about 15 years old.
"She just loved children," said her daughter Robin Turner of Baltimore. "My mother's house was the family house of the city. Everybody was treated the same. I didn't even know that [the five foster children] were not my real brothers and sisters."
Betty Cooper, a friend who talked to Mrs. Hunter every day for 52 years, said Mrs. Hunter was always patient with the children.
"You could tell she loved all of them the same and didn't treat any of them different," she said. "She was a good mother."
A native of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., the former Dorothy Fleming married the Rev. Molester J. Hunter in 1946 and moved to the West Baltimore house the same year.
Mrs. Hunter was also an avid gardener and farmed a large plot in Howard County where she grew vegetables. Each summer, she and a large contingent of her children canned enough vegetables to last through the winter.
"We never went to the market because we didn't have to," Ms. Turner said. "The meats came from family in the South, and we always had a freezer full of food."
She was active in the New Hope Christian Church in West Baltimore, where her husband was pastor, and she founded and sang with several choirs. Mrs. Hunter was an accomplished gospel soloist who sang throughout the region on programs with gospel notables such as James Cleveland, Clara Ward and the Soul Seekers.
Mrs. Hunter was a member of the Interdenominational Minister's Wives Alliance of Baltimore and Vicinity, the Maryland Association of Minister's Wives and Minister's Widows, the God's Law Against Drunkenness and Drinking (GLADD) choir and the United Missionary Baptist Conference.
Services are scheduled for 10: 30 a.m. tomorrow at New Hope Christian Church, 520 N. Chapelgate Lane.
In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by three sons, Molester J. Hunter Jr. of Woodlawn, and Brian Jefferson and Andrew Dorsey, both of Baltimore; seven other daughters, Ernestine Day and Stacey Washington, both of Randallstown, Christine Edmond, Pamela Thomas and Crystal Jacobs, all of Baltimore, Rosalyn Dorsey of Fort Meade and Lora Gould of Woodlawn; a brother, Calvin Fleming of Roanoke Rapids; a sister, Margaret Mitchell of Owings Mills; 22 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 6/03/98