Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Karen Heller: Hearty farewell to a lively spirit

It was fitting that St. George Hunt resembled Santa Claus, in his face and his laughter. To him, every day was a holiday. And every day spent with him was a treat.

It was fitting that St. George Hunt resembled Santa Claus, in his face and his laughter. To him, every day was a holiday. And every day spent with him was a treat.

A Penn-trained Wayne veterinarian, St. George ministered to 5,500 furry and feathered patients. Every death was honored with a condolence note to the bereft owners.

St. George was not above helping two-legged friends if they required medical attention, especially women. "Take off all your clothes," he'd joke. "Throw them in the corner on top of mine, and I'll X-ray that toe."

He was a connoisseur of kitsch, an enthusiast of junk. His favorite day was a "large trash day in a nice neighborhood." He gave absurd presents, wrapped in tinfoil. Of late, he had favored blow-up dolls. He owned a 1980s limo named Genise, which he drove in a chauffeur's cap, and owned a share of a fire truck and of a school bus painted Eagles green. The fleet delighted children at parades and parties - and enriched mechanics.

If you're lucky, you meet someone this memorable and marvelous once in a lifetime.

St. George died Thursday at his Devon home, possibly of sudden arrhythmia. He was 59. He left behind his adored wife of 25 years, Suzie Robinovitz, and their cherished children, Hillary, 21, and Ethan, 18. On Saturday, he was laid to rest at St. David's Episcopal Church.

One thousand people attended, as well as a few dogs.

It was the largest funeral many of us had ever attended of someone neither wealthy nor famous. Of course, St. George was both - in friends and moments, in humor and fun.

A legacy of joy

"Nothing was too much trouble. He always wanted a party," Suzie recalled yesterday. "Over the years, they just got bigger."

On Saturday, Hillary said of her father, "I cannot begin to think of any one word to describe you. Many say goofy, enthusiastic, jovial, caring, loving, honest, hilarious, great," and then she paused, "but to me you were mostly embarrassing." The crowd erupted in St. George-decibel laughter.

He had a talent for getting into places he had no business being. At an NFC championship game in St. Louis, he talked his way into the Eagles' lockers by pretending to be a producer for Chunky Soup. He appeared on the Orioles ballfield with a senior citizen choir.

St. George spent most of his life in Devon. After graduating from Hobart College, he found himself back home, living with his mother. Classmate David Henrich threatened to report this in the alumni bulletin, along with St. George's new pastime: macramé. Instead, when Henrich picked up the next issue, he learned "that I had earned a master's degree in cha cha from Arthur Murray."

A gift for friendship

St. George was a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised, his friends and principles. For years, he fought for handicapped access to the Devon Horse Show. When a pet owner complained about local schools' observing Jewish holidays, he told her to get a new vet.

After St. George and a friend were roughed up by security after a ballgame, he filed suit against the Phillies. He refused to settle, eventually winning $80,000. He informed friends that the money wouldn't change him, though he did brag that he was one of the highest paid Phils that year.

"Many people say you are lucky to leave this earth with one or two good friends," friend Bill Toler recalled. "He left hundreds."

This year, St. George decided that Thanksgiving at home seemed too boring. That's how he and Suzie ended up co-hosting a feast for 40, including a homeless couple, in the Eagles bus at the Linc parking lot. It was another St. George moment. He created thousands.

"Your amazing compassion and enthusiasm were evident to everyone who met you," Hillary said Saturday. "I only hope I can grow to be half as amazing as you were."