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William D. Hunt, former president and CEO of Yardley of London, dies

William D. Hunt was a former Noxell Corp. senior vice president and board member.
William D. Hunt was a former Noxell Corp. senior vice president and board member.

William D. Hunt, a former Noxell Corp. senior vice president and board member who later became president and CEO of Yardley of London, died Oct. 21 in his sleep at the Mercy Ridge retirement community in Timonium. The former Lutherville resident was 94.

William Donald Hunt, son of Everett Hunt, a pharmaceutical manufacturers’ representative, and his wife, Janette Wilhere Hunt, a homemaker, was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Towson, where he attended the Lida Lee Tall School and later in Wilmette, Illinois, where he graduated from New Trier High School.

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In 1945, he enlisted in the Navy Air Corps V-5 program and was discharged a year later. He began his college studies in 1946 at Northwestern University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1950 in marketing.

He began his business career with Johnson & Johnson and then the Mennen Co. before joining in 1955 what was then called the Noxema Chemical Co., now the Noxell Corp., as director of new products, and was director of development and marketing for the company’s line of CoverGirl cosmetics.

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“Bill was hired by my father from a talent pool in New York City,” said George L. Bunting Jr., who retired from Noxell where he had been CEO, president and chairman of the board.

“CoverGirl was a major game-changer for the company and Bill led that, which was a mass-produced product line. He had a talent for product development and advertising,” Mr. Bunting said. “CoverGirl used models for advertising that was published in all of the major women’s magazines, and in those days, cosmetics were kept behind the counter and he brought them out front and put them on pegs so customers could make their selection. They were later sold in food stores and Walmart.”

He described Mr. Hunt as “friendly and outgoing.”

“Bill worked well with the people he reported to. He could be demanding but was well-liked,” Mr. Bunting said.

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“This was the first time that cosmetics were sold in mass-market outlets, and the brand changed the face of the company,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family.

Mr. Hunt was elected vice president and then senior vice president of marketing at Noxell as well as serving on its board.

In 1971, he was recruited to become president and CEO of Yardley of London, the cosmetics, fragrances and toiletry products company that was owned by the British American Tobacco Co.

“He left us and went to Yardley because he wanted to run his own show,” Mr. Bunting said.

During his tenure with the company, Mr. Hunt lived in Essex Fells, New Jersey, and Atlanta, and after the subsidiary was sold, returned in 1980 to Baltimore and lived on Boxwood Lane in Lutherville. He moved the Mercy Ridge in 2003 with his wife, the former Ovetta Foster, who he married in 1950. She died in 2015.

Mr. Hunt was an inveterate golfer, and he recorded four holes-in-one during his 50 years as a member of the Baltimore Country Club. He and his wife enjoyed spending winters at a second home in Great Harbour Cay in the Bahamas where they liked boating, golfing, and entertaining family and friends. He was also the author of a history of the island, family members said.

Plans for a gathering are incomplete.

Mr. Hunt is survived by three sons, Christopher Hunt of Annapolis, Geoffrey Hunt of Timonium and Gregory Hunt of Charlottesville, Virginia; two daughters, Alison Noger of Phoenix in Baltimore County and Leslie Hunt of Naples, Florida; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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