It’s a Generous Life

Priscilla Hunt’s active philanthropic efforts with her husband, make a huge impact on the South Bay community at large.

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    Zoe Alexander

Priscilla Hunt is a force of nature. At 83 she is a vibrant example of how giving back to the community can enhance life at any age.

As the CEO and president of Hunt Enterprises, Inc., Priscilla is a dynamic businesswoman, busy matriarch to a large family and, along with husband Donald Hunt, a generous philanthropist. Her eventful life could be a page-turning memoir with chapters about her youth in the Philippines, singing in a band and her marriage to Donald.  

Priscilla Dulay grew up in a large family in the Philippines and always dreamed of moving to America. Her father, a businessman and former mayor, ran a cigar factory, where she became fascinated at a young age with running a business. She later attended University of the East and graduated with a degree in commercial education.

While her family enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, he wanted his children to be generous. He told them, “Don’t eat candy in front of other children unless you have some to share.” This advice made a lasting impression on Priscilla as she evolved into a businesswoman grounded in the rule of sharing with others

By 21, Priscilla realized her dream of coming to America, where she would have a family and build a diverse career. After raising three children, she became a singer in the group Priscilla Lee & The Filipino Rockets and worked as an actress.

After her second husband passed away, she shifted gears and ran his five Mexican restaurants. She then helped her son’s company with marketing efforts and launched professional partnerships with her family, some of whom currently work at Hunt Enterprises. “They make sure—as a family—that the business runs smoothly,” she says.

Priscilla met Donald Hunt at an interview to be his assistant in 1998, and it was to be a momentous chapter in her life. Priscilla and Don shared the same work ethic and a joy in caring for a growing number of employees as the company expanded. They married in 2004.

Priscilla speaks with an effusive admiration for Don. As a child of the Depression, Don takes nothing for granted and always shared the wealth he worked so hard to achieve. And because his parents were officers with the Salvation Army, sharing one’s bounty with others was not an occasional act but a way of life.

Priscilla says, “He’s so kind and generous to others, but for himself he doesn’t care.” And when it comes to little things, such as groceries, “He always wants to buy the generic brands!”

As they got older, Priscilla used to ask Don if he wanted to upgrade to a fancier car, but he insisted on driving his Toyota Camry. The Hunts’ simple lifestyle and their ability to make financial contributions to causes they cared about naturally led them to philanthropy.

As we grow older, what do we value most? Your health is your rock.

When the couple was able to give back on a large scale, they began to support various organizations. Hunt Enterprises annually contributes to a scholarship for USC’s Marshall Business School, The Salvation Army, Little Company of Mary Hospital and Feed the Children, among others.

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan recently approached Priscilla to tour an inner-city school in the South Bay to gain her support for much-needed improvements. But after Don’s retirement and as they face the health challenges of their age, health care has become a top priority.

Priscilla notes, “As we grow older, what do we value most? Your health is your rock. Don was hospitalized at Torrance Memorial, and he had such good care. Torrance Memorial does such a good job of taking care of patients. The people there make you feel at home. Their personalized service really makes a difference.”

When the Hunts wanted to create a meaningful legacy donation, they decided to reward Torrance Memorial Medical Center. The Donald and Priscilla Hunt Cancer Institute and the Donald and Priscilla Hunt Nuclear Medicine Center were unveiled in September and are housed within the new Patient Tower.

When asked why they chose to focus on cancer, Priscilla lists a number of family members who died from the disease. “So it’s personal,” she says. “I would like them to find a cure for cancer.”

As the hospital has taken good care of the Hunts, they wanted to return the gift. And the entire community benefits, as Priscilla adds: “All walks of life go there, and that’s why we picked it.”

Despite her schedule, Priscilla doesn’t show signs of slowing—although with the demands of work, philanthropy and caring for Don, she does have stress. “My work is 24–7,” she says, “but the way I look at it, it’s not even an obligation—it’s something I want to do. To me, it’s easy. I wish I could do more.”