Public health officials are the unsung workers of health care. Their efforts often go unnoticed until a pandemic underscores just how valuable they are.
The Town of Bridgewater and Bridgewater State, however, aim to ensure a local public health hero is never forgotten.
Dr. Albert F. Hunt
Hunt (1875-1963) was chairman of the Town of Bridgewater’s Board of Health from 1910 to 1955 and the chief medical officer of BSU, which was then known as a normal school.
During the 1918 pandemic, Hunt led the town’s response as he coped with a shortage of medical professionals and some residents who refused to follow public health guidance. His leadership shone again when a smallpox outbreak affected nearby Middleboro. Hunt vaccinated almost every Bridgewater resident and the town reported no cases during that outbreak.
A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School, Hunt also served on the town School Committee. He was a practicing physician, seeing patients in his house near the building that bears his name. Townspeople particularly appreciated “Dr. Hunt's yellow salve,” which was used to heal boils. When treating poorer residents, he would accept bread or a homemade treat as payment.
"He was (a) very kind, old fashioned, giving, well-educated man who believed that everyone could succeed,” granddaughter Helen Hunt Kingsley recalled in 2000.
In appreciation of his leadership, townspeople named an elementary school after Hunt. In 2000, BSU purchased the school and kept the Hunt name. That building is still known as Hunt Hall.
Hunt Hall, located on School Street, houses art and music classrooms and offices as well as the Parking Services and Connect Card Office.
Material in this article comes from “Bridgewater and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918,” a Bridgewater Review article written by Dr. William Hanna, and “BSC Acquires Hunt School,” a 2000 Bridgewater magazine article by Julie Santos Reardon, '91.