Dr. Brenda Morrison Larson Hunter, 76, of Chapel Hill, NC, died on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. She passed away and into heaven, surrounded by her beloved family. Her faith in Jesus Christ, acquired as a teenage girl, guided her life’s work and choices and sustained her during significant health challenges.
Brenda was born on February 2, 1941, and grew up in Statesville, NC. She was a high school majorette, dated the captain of the football team, and drank Coca-Colas mixed with salted peanuts. Brenda’s promising early career as a beauty contestant, begun as the local Miss Merry Christmas, met an untimely end when she was named runner-up in the Miss Statesville pageant. She blamed the loss on her choice of talent, twirling a baton with pom-poms. Yet she always maintained a beauty devotee’s habit of wearing bright lipstick, even to collect the mail.
Brenda graduated with a B.A. from Wheaton College and obtained an M.A. in English literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Georgetown University when she was in her 40s — proof, she always said, that the brain does not rot. She worked as a psychologist in private practice in Northern Virginia and in Raleigh, NC. She was also an internationally published author of 14 books, including Home by Choice; The Power of Mother Love; In the Company of Women; and From Santa to Sexting, coauthored with her daughter, Kristen Blair. Her final book, Understanding and Loving a Person with Depression, coauthored with Christian radio personality Steve Arterburn, was released four days after her death, on October 1.
During her decades-long career as a parenting advocate and author, Brenda appeared on national TV shows, including Today, CBS This Morning, and Larry King Live. Brenda was also profiled in The Washington Post and was a frequent guest on national radio programs, including “In the Market with Janet Parshall”; “Focus on the Family”; and “Family Life Today.” She loved sharing her insights about infant attachment, mothering, and female friendship.
In her later years, Brenda embraced a new role with joy: doting grandmother to Austin and Katie Blair. She was a true matriarch, hosting resplendent holiday gatherings and sponsoring family beach trips to Kiawah Island, SC. A natural therapist, Brenda found her greatest purpose in talking deeply with family, friends, and patients, asking them her two famous questions: “Are your choices helping or hurting you?” and “How are you, really?”
Brenda is survived by her beloved husband of 43 years, Don Russell Hunter; her sister, Sandra (Ron) Harrison; her two daughters, Holly Larson, and Kristen (Greg) Larson Blair; and her two grandchildren, Austin and Katie Blair.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 14, at 12 noon at Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham, NC. A visitation will take place on Friday, October 13, from 5 to 7 PM at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home in Durham, NC.
Arrangements under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. On line condolences www.hallwynne.com, select obituaries.