Raquel “Rae” Hunt passed away February 11, 2020 surrounded by her family, after a courageous fight with cancer, at the age of 64. She is a remarkable woman who will be missed dearly.
Rae’s story began on June 17, 1955, when Nancy and Bill Grisamer welcomed their fourth child. Rae cherished her upbringing on a cattle ranch outside the small town of Charlo that she shared with her three sisters (Janet, Joy and Judy) and her brother (Ronnie). Her fond memories were of a simple country lifestyle with a close loving family that always worked together, played together and prayed together. Her parents played a big role in her life for instilling a strong work ethic. She watched them share responsibilities of the ranch they owned for 30 years, as well as her father working a full-time job for the government. They not only worked hard, but they enjoyed working; rarely complaining because they always felt fortunate. When Rae was a teenager, her brother became paralyzed in a rodeo accident. She remembered the sadness and shock it brought, but also remembered the support and love everyone gave to them as a family. She watched as her brother struggle just to be able to sit in a wheelchair, yet he never complained and was full of life. This experience and years of rehabilitation had a huge impact on her and taught her that no matter what happened in life, with the right attitude and a lot of hard work you can accomplish anything. Her family helped influence her character and positive outlook that so many of us loved about her.
Rae was a smart one. Her wits, grit and integrity were some of the reasons she was successful in school and in life. She graduated from the small town of Charlo as the class salutatorian. The small group of classmates made it feel more special to her. She enjoyed sharing stories of this time in her life as they were some of her fondest memories.
Rae was 18 years old when she fell hard for a handsome lighthearted man that made her laugh. She married Gary Hunt a year later in 1974 and he filled 46 years of her life with many crazy and joyful moments. Their love for each other was truly unconditional and they were each other’s support system. Shortly after they married, Gary and Rae moved into her parent’s ranch house and Gary took over running the 200 head cattle ranch for over 10 years. It was during this time, Rae worked part-time at her sister’s floral shop. It was also in this little house that Gary and Rae added three children to their family (Tena, Travis, and Teesa). They also had several foster children living with them on and off. Some of them would stay for a few months and others stayed for years. The only thing she loved as much as Gary was being a mom, and a great one she was. This little house quickly became too crowded with the birth of her last child, so Gary and Rae moved their family to Ronan in 1986 where they settled until 2018.
Rae wanted a job that allowed her to watch her children grew up so she started a childcare business. Her genuine love for children and hard work lead to a successful career that gave Rae and Gary the opportunity to touch so many lives in their 32 years of business. Rae was always smiling and had a brightness to her because she really loved what she was doing and the people that surrounded her each day. Her infectious personality made it easy for the children (and adults) to gravitate to her. When they weren’t busy with the business, they spent the rest of their time enjoying outdoor outings and activities that beautiful Montana has to offer like camping, fishing, and hunting as a family. She cherished these memories with her family. Rae also had a passion for music and was a talented piano player. She really enjoyed the simple things life had to offer and always had a cheerful persona.
In early 2017, Rae received her cancer diagnosis. This was not the easiest portion of her life, but she really proved how strong she was and never lost her optimism. Gary and Rae retired so they could focus on her treatment and the things in life that mattered most. Their time was split between Bozeman and their Hot Springs cabin, and they tried to take advantage of the good days as they came. Her perseverance was impressive, the medical staff regularly commented on her capabilities and positive outlook.
Throughout her life, Rae maintained a sweet and simple demeanor that won the trust and hearts of many. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and just knew how to make a person feel loved. Her signature gift of joy, shown through her constant smiling, laughter, and joking around, will never be forgotten. Rae’s caring and nurturing personality, selflessness and outlook on life are what people remember the most about her. She was always able to find the good in all people, regardless of their walks of life and their differences, big or small. She always managed a positive attitude and was able to laugh at herself and her mistakes. She always made an effort to become friends with anyone who entered into her life. She always offered help to someone in need. She always thought of others. She made a great mentor because she was a good listener, had good insights and taught us how to look at situations differently. She was a true gem that gave so much of herself and asked for so little. It is so hard to image a life without her because she made it so special just by being in it. Her kind heart and beautiful soul was a rare treasure that so many of us will miss.
Rae leaves a great legacy of generosity, real-life teachings, funny stories, and laughter which will forever be in our memories and hearts. Rae is survived by the love of her life, Gary Hunt, her three children Tena Beavers, Travis Hunt, and Teesa Starkel, her four grandchildren Anthony, Emily, Sydney and Toby, and numerous others who thought of her as a second mom or a cherished friend. She is now in the loving embraces of her loved ones who left before her which include her son-in-law (Kurt), her parents (Bill and Nancy), and other family and close friends.
All family and community friends are invited to attend a memorial on Saturday, July 11 at noon at the Boys and Girls Club facility in Ronan with a luncheon to follow. A time to share some of our favorite memories, our stories, to laugh, to cry and remember an incredible woman who is greatly missed.