by Leora Summers
Who doesn’t recognize the name Sylvia Hunt? If you live in Caldwell, have ever had kids in our area schools, or attended any Caldwell Fine Arts Program at the College of Idaho, you probably know her name and how dedicated she has been to the Arts and the introduction of the Arts to the children in our area. She has been called, “the face and energy behind Caldwell Fine Arts since 1981.” She made sure to bring some of the programs and workshops to the schools when they were in town. Sylvia has also brought the “joy of music” to the thousands of kids to whom she has taught piano lessons.
She puts 100% of her energy into any program in which she is involved. She made sure that performers who came to town were made to feel welcome, some with receptions, like Vincent Price, and others by finding homes within our community to house them during their stay in Caldwell.
Sylvia has also made an impact on art within our community through her membership of the Indian Creek Revitalization Committee, which dressed up the Indian Creek area downtown with sculptures and ceramic arts along Indian Creek. I remember Sylvia selling little plastic ducks for a “Duck Race” fundraiser for Caldwell Fine Arts during some of the Indian Creek Festivals.
Sylvia had early beginnings at the College of Idaho, graduating summa cum Laude in 1959. In 1961, her professor and mentor, Richard Skyrm, launched the Caldwell Fine Arts series with Sylvia being involved from the “get-go!” When Dick passed the baton, he passed it to Sylvia to continue as the series manager. She expanded the series and brought it to a height and a new level of service to our community and to the children of our community. Though she is no longer the series manager, she is still highly involved with Caldwell Fine Arts today.
From her initial receiving of a music scholarship at the C of I way back in the 50s, Sylvia has given back to the College of Idaho and our community over and over again. She spent a decade as the President of the Treasure Valley Idaho Music Teachers Association, was chair of the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and continues to play the organ at Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church, a service she has performed since 1955. What a small investment to have received such great benefits from such a wonderful human being. She has been recognized in 1981 with the C of I’s “Distinguished Alumni Award” and in 2009 she was awarded the Half-Century Society’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Laura Turner, current C of I’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, introduced Sylvia’s honorary degree and said, “If you were to ask which entity has benefitted more by the long-lasting relationship, Sylvia Hunt or The College of Idaho and the Caldwell Community, the answer can be seen and heard all around in the artistic displays of Indian Creek and the continued offerings of Caldwell Fine Arts. It is, indeed, the communities that have benefitted greatly by the association. It may have been the C of I that helped enable Hunt for great things when she graduated from here in 1959, but it was Sylvia who put it all into practice and has tirelessly promoted the fine arts to southwestern Idaho ever since.”
“I present Ms. Sylvia Hunt, 1959 C of I graduate who became the face and energy behind Caldwell Fine Arts since 1981, music teacher to thousands of students, organist at Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church, proponent of the fine arts, Lifetime Achievement Award winner of the C of I’s Half-Century Society, we are pleased to have you carry the name of The College of Idaho with you as an honorary degree recipient.”
“In recognition of your lifetime of music education and promotion of the fine arts, your service to Caldwell Fine Arts since the 1960s, and your unwavering dedication to The C of I and the Caldwell community, The College of Idaho is pleased to bestow upon you its highest honor. In accordance with the decision of the College’s Board of Trustees, I confer upon you the honorary Doctorate degree of Humane Letters, together with all its rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Congratulations!”