Laura Ophelia Hunt, a loving and devoted mother whose warmth and sense of humor and style touched all who knew her, passed away peacefully after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. She had moved to the Washington, DC area in recent years to be closer to family.
Known to many as “Chi Chi,” Laura was born and raised in Harlem. She attended the St. Aloysius School for her elementary and middle school years where she was taught by the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary. She graduated from St. Alphonsus Commercial High School for Girls in 1958. She worked as a legal secretary for the Legal Aid Society for several years while also founding and chairing the Harlem Branch of the League of Women Voters. As stated in a 1968 article from the New York Amsterdam News, “she wanted to make the citizens of the Harlem community more aware of the responsibility of their leaders in government.”
Laura recognized the value of a formal education as a complement to her years of community activism. She received a scholarship to attend the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, New York where she was educated by the Sisters of Charity. She was awarded a New York City Urban Fellowship by Mayor John V. Lindsay, one of only twenty college students chosen nationally for this honor. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology in 1974 and earned a master’s degree in Education from the City University of New York, School of Education in 1976.
Continuing her commitment to public service, Laura spent much of her professional career protecting the community’s most vulnerable citizens. She supervised investigations of child abuse at New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare (BCW) and spent 15 years as a parole officer for the New York State Division of Parole (NYSDP). She recognized that the men and women she supervised had paid their debt to society and deserved to be treated with respect and dignity as they re-entered society.
Despite her many accomplishments, her proudest roles were that of mother and grandmother. Her daughter, Nicole “Nikki” Creola Kelly, Esq., of Arlington, VA, will be eternally grateful to her mother who sacrificed many of her own dreams so that Nikki could pursue hers. “To be a fly on the wall” was Laura’s common refrain when Nikki recounted even a mundane story during their late-night discussions. Although Nikki is heartbroken to have lost the most loving, generous, and supportive mother a daughter could ask for, she has gained an angel.
Laura was predeceased by her beloved parents Walter Ledoux Hunt, Sr. and Creola Essie Blackmon Hunt and brothers Winfred Hunt, Walter Ledoux Hunt, Jr., and William Randolph Hunt. In addition to her daughter and son-in-law, Neil, she is survived by her adored grandchildren Catherine Harper Kelly and Sean Patrick Kelly, her sister Michele Danielle Hunt McClary of Winston Salem, NC, who selflessly cared for Laura in her final months, her former husband Mohan Harry of Mechanicsville, VA, several nieces, nephews, and friends from BCW, NYSDP, Esplanade Gardens, the Frederick Johnson tennis courts, and the greater-Harlem community.
Finally, having lost her mother at the age of 16, Laura found much needed comfort and a sense of community at Snookie’s Sugar Bowl, a popular Harlem luncheonette where young people gathered in the late fifties and sixties. The friendships she developed during this time endured throughout her lifetime.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation. Please see link below~
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation
8815 Conroy Windermere Rd. Suite 309, Orlando FL 32835