A man whose name is synonymous with business and community service will be honored during the second annual Memorial Golf Tournament scheduled for this weekend at Pine Hills Country Club.
Ben Hunter is a third generation leader of his family's Coca-Cola Bottling Company which began operating in Minden as the North Louisiana Bottling Works in 1901. The franchise to bottle Coca-Cola was acquired in 1905 and a Hunter has always been at the helm.
Ben Hunter was CEO of the family business for 22 years, following his father, Larry, and grandfather, W.S. Hunter. Following his retirement in 2001, the fourth generation, Don, moved into the driver's seat.
"We were happy to let the fourth generation take over...when we all were ready," Hunter remembered with a laugh.
One of Ben Hunter's most memorable moments came in 1997 when he was named Minden's Man of the Year by the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, following in the footsteps of his mother and father who were named Minden's Citizens of the Year in 1946. That was the inaugural year of the award.
"That was an important event in my life, to win the same award as my parents," he said.
The Hunter family has long been known for bringing the first recreational facilities to Minden, including a baseball park which was home to the Minden Redbirds, the first public swimming pool in the city and the famous "Hunter's Playhouse" which hosted weekly dances for Minden teenagers.
Although Ben Hunter is a member of a high profile, public-spirited family, he enjoyed working quietly behind the scenes. He is a former chairman of the Special Olympics, was involved in the creation of industrial development as president of the Minden Economic Development Commission and board member of the South Webster Industrial District.
He was a member of the Peoples Bank board of directors for more than 20 years and was a member of the bank's executive board. Hunter created the Larry and Gladys Hunter college scholarship fund to help a deserving graduate of Minden High School further their education.
Hunter has always been an avid golfer and has served as both president and board member of Pine Hills Country Club. During his term as greens chairman, he helped bring the course into championship shape.
Hunter will be honored for his achievements and contributions to the community and to Pine Hills Country Club during a dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 17. Saturday's event will complete the first day of the two-day, two-man scramble golf tournament.
"I am looking forward to attending the dinner," he said. "This is quite an honor."