Medical Tuesday Blog

Caroline Hunt, Heiress to Oil Riches, died Nov. 13, 2018, in Dallas

Feb 19

Written by: Del Meyer
02/19/2019 8:30 AM 

Daughter of Oil Tycoon H.L. Hunt, Owned Luxury Hotels
and Clung to Frugal Habits

She led Bible study group and advised:
‘Never get emotionally attached to any one line of business’

By James R. Hagerty | WSJ | Nov. 23, 2018

Caroline Rose Hunt, who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, overcame an advantaged upbringing to lead a surprisingly quiet and productive life.

A daughter of the Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, she raised five children, picked tomatoes at the family farm, did volunteer work and steadily expanded her fortune. The financial managers she hired launched a chain of luxury hotels and spurred redevelopment in a blighted area north of downtown Dallas. She wrote a novel and two cookbooks, led weekly Bible study sessions and became the first female deacon at her Presbyterian church.

Her grandchildren called her “Moozie,” a name she invented. Despite two divorces, she didn’t feature in tabloid gossip. Wealth, she said in a 1983 interview with Parade magazine, was “sort of like having good looks: It’s not something you’ve earned, but you don’t go out and scar your face, either.” . . .  

Mrs. Hunt, as she liked to be known, died Nov. 13 in Dallas, two weeks after suffering a stroke. She was 95.

Though she didn’t get involved in the day-to-day management of her assets, she helped promote her hotel chain, which at one point included the Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Carlyle in New York. She had empathy for guests who, like her, were wealthy without being spendthrift. “I got a letter the other day from someone who had ordered two after-dinner cognacs, and he felt $96 was a little expensive,” she said in the 1983 interview. “I agree.”

She sent notes to friends on the back of used envelopes and avoided flashy cars. Offered a Japanese-made Lexus, she said, “You know, we had a war with them once.”

She was born Jan. 8, 1923, in El Dorado, Ark., the third of seven children born to H.L. Hunt and his first wife, Lyda. Her father used money he won playing poker to acquire oil fields in Texas. He moved the family to Tyler, Texas, and then to Dallas.  As a girl, she told the Dallas Morning News, she once made cinnamon fudge and sold it to neighbors for 10 cents a bag. She was later informed that the ingredients cost more than 10 cents. “So that was my first lesson in economics,” she said.

Another lesson came at 16 when she was driving a Chevrolet to school while studying for a Latin test. Distracted by her Latin book, she hit a guardrail and flipped the car into a stream. After emerging muddy but unhurt, she found a ride home with a passing truck driver. Her father calmly gave her a few dollars to tip the driver, according to the Morning News.

Caroline Rose Hunt in 2009. Her chain of luxury hotels at one point included the Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Carlyle in New York. She also invested in oil, gas and ranches.   Photo: Associated Press

She studied for two years at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., and then completed a degree in English and art history at the University of Texas in 1943.

Along with hotels, she invested in oil and gas, ranches and real estate. For a time, she owned a stake in the maker of Van Heusen shirts. With a friend, she created a line of Lady Primrose bath oils, soaps and lotions. . .

In 2011, her company sold the hotel business to New World Hospitality of Hong Kong for $230 million. One of her children, Laurie Harrison, recalled asking her mother how she could sell a business she loved: “She said, ‘Laurie, you should never get emotionally attached to any one line of business. Business is cyclical. There’s a time to buy and a time to sell.’”

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Categories: In Memoriam

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