Emily Bridges Gunter

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Emily Bridges Gunter

Emily Bridges Gunter, 91, of Tallahassee, Florida, went peacefully to be with the Lord in the early morning of August 30, 2014, after a full life centered on family, faith, music, and curiosity.

Mrs. Gunter was born Julia Emily Bridges in Brinson, Georgia, on October 13, 1922, the ninth child in a family of fourteen children raised by Dr. R.L.Z. Bridges and Lillie Maddox Bridges. In this household of overlapping generations, she developed lifelong interests in music, medicine, farm management, and education. After she repeatedly ran away to attend school, she was allowed to enter first grade at age five.  She packed quinine pills in Dr. Bridges’ dispensary and accompanied him on house calls, played violin in the family orchestra, and excelled at playing the piano by ear in Brinson’s Baptist church. Chores on the family farm were the usual start for each day, milking cows and feeding chickens.

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“Tootie,” as she was affectionately known to her siblings, graduated from Bainbridge High School.  During WWII, she was a stenographer at the Bainbridge Army Airbase, then worked her way through Florida State College for Women as a waitress at the Dutch Kitchen.  She earned a BA in music (1946) and returned to earn the first Master’s Degree in Music Education awarded by FSU, with a thesis on teaching preschoolers how to read musical notation.  After marriage she continued to use her typing skills as a sought-after stenographer for the Florida Legislature and editor for master’s theses and doctoral dissertations at FSU.

At FSU she met Herman Gunter, Jr., a voice professor, and they wed June 1, 1948.  Together she (one of 14) and he (an only child) had five children. They were married for 64 years before his death in 2012.

Emily was a nurturer of people and plants. She loved rooting boxwoods, air-layering camellias, and cross-pollinating new colors of gerbera daisies and amaryllis from seed. She started the first boys choir in Tallahassee (at First Presbyterian), played organ at Westminster Presbyterian, accompanied worship services at the Federal Correctional Institution and the Haven of Rest Mission, and instilled her enthusiasm for learning in her own children, all of whom graduated from FSU and continued studies elsewhere. She never lost her love of hymns and hearing “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”

Mrs. Gunter is survived by her children: Herman Gunter III (Lieschen) of Live Oak, Ben Gunter of Tallahassee, Carl Gunter (Debbie) of John’s Creek, GA, Henry Gunter (Susan) of Tallahassee, and Mary Emily Gunter Grissett (Bryan) of Gadsden, AL. She is also survived by two siblings: Evelyn Bridges of Dallas, TX and John Bridges (Carolyn) of Brinson; 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm Saturday, October, 11, 2014, at First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, Florida (at the intersection of Park Avenue and Adams Street), with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall. Cremains will be laid to rest in the Old City Cemetery.