Markham Hill Moment of History                                                       2020-5-4

Dr. Jim Hunt’s Letter to the Editor
about Markham Hill

First, who is Dr. Jim Hunt? Fayetteville Public Education Foundation’s writeup on Dr. Hunt in August 2018 says,

Dr. Jim Hunt
Dr. James Hunt was born in Muskogee, OK, and moved with his family to Fayetteville when he was in the seventh grade. He graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1952. He attended the University of Missouri at Kansas City, completing the pre-dental program and entering the School of Dentistry in 1955. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from UMKC and had additional training in Pediatric Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1959, James returned to Fayetteville to open the first pediatric dental practice in Northwest Arkansas. He maintained a private practice in Fayetteville and Springdale until 1990. Dr. Hunt was a key contributor in the development of the Fayetteville Youth Dental Program, which opened in 1967 at Fayetteville High School. Dr. Hunt volunteered innumerable professional hours to provide screenings and care for thousands of low-income district students. Hunt continued his passion to serve, through mission trips to Togo, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, and Gambia, where he shared his faith and brought relief from the pain of dental disease to those without access to dental care. Dr. Hunt retired from practice in 2015. Dr. Hunt married his high school sweetheart, Margaret. They have four children Rob Hunt, Lisa Lovell, Leslie Sample, and Dr. Andy Hunt.

Dr. Jim Hunt wrote the following letter to the editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on January 22, 2020:

Promise of past lingers in Markham Hill debate

I've just read the article regarding the Markham Hill development (rape, from my prejudiced viewpoint). The article brought back lots of good memories mixed with some sadness and cynicism.

To digress, as a 10- to 12-year-old kid, I lived on South Hill Street in a big ol' two-story residence still in existence. Great location, within walking distance to Markham.

Joy Pratt Markham owned and operated a riding (as in horses) academy. As a Jefferson School brat, I could not afford the required fee, so Joy Pratt took me under her wings, taught me to ride and went through the motion of letting me muck stalls and groom horses as payment. She was too smart and gracious to insult me by providing it free. At the time, in the thought pattern of a “kid,” I knew she was materially “rich,” but had no idea how remarkable and rich in wisdom and character she truly was. She loved to ride The Hill and would quite often call our residence asking me to come ride with her a she didn’t want to ride alone. Even later in life she did not know me by any other name than “Jamie!” I have the most truly grand privileged memories of riding and conversing with her.

I remember vividly on one excursion she explained to me that one day the Fayetteville area would be a metropolis and she had just legally completed documentation guaranteeing that Markham Hill would forever be maintained as a nature area where residents could always ride horses, bikes, and walk nature paths. I can still visualize her gray hair and the wonderful broad smile as I rode on my favorite Tennessee Walker named "Friend" somewhere in the woods on top of the hill. That one experience has haunted me for many of the 75 years since that event.

The big question that has remained these latter days is "what happened?" Where was the failure in the legal process that her passion has been violated? This was a remarkable, intelligent, visionary woman, way beyond her time, who had the resources and influence to assure a dream would be forever maintained for the sole benefit of others, not for selfish motive or financial gain. How did the system fail her, and it did fail her.

Venture up Markham and you can already see the "rape" that has occurred in the context of what was. Unfortunately we do know the motive for attacking and destroying her vision. It's called $$$, not necessarily illegal or even immoral, but tremendously sad and disappointing.

Too, it illustrates that there are no guarantees in this life, especially in a handshake, but also in the legal realm.

Ah, but did not someone many years ago say “Nothing is certain in this life except taxes and death.”

Part of painting “Interior of Stable” by William Hart, how
I picture “Jamie” after mucking stalls for Mrs. Markham.