Hunter Lane Jr., Reform Political Figure



Hunter Lane Jr. as a young lawyer
  • Hunter Lane Jr. as a young lawyer
Hunter Lane Jr., a pivotal figure in Memphis political history, died Sunday under hospice care at Methodist Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 82.

Lane, who in 1963 was elected Commissioner of Public Service on the old Memphis City Comission, defeating John T. "Buddy" Dwyer, a long-time Crump-era fixture, was one of the leaders of a reform movement that led to a charter commission and the establishment in 1967 of the current mayor-council form of government in Memphis. Well known as a political progressive, Lane was a candidate for mayor in that first election under the new system but lost in a multi-candidate race to Henry Loeb, whose lot it was to be mayor at the time of the fateful sanitation strike of 1968 and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Elected to the Memphis School Board in 1971, Lane would serve as the board’s president and attempted to be a calming force during a turbulent time that would see court-ordered busing.

The son of a renowned major league baseball player, Lane was an athlete in his own right, quarterbacking the 1947 state champion Central High School Warriors football team. He went on to Washington and Lee University, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a law degree. After college he served as a Marine Corps officer and would retire as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine reserves.

Lane was an avid hiker and exercise enthusiast. He earned his living as a lawyer and maintained a consistent interest and participation in political and civic affairs until the effects of Parkinson’s Disease and associated ailments made such activity difficult in recent years.

He leaves his wife Susan ; two sons, Jim and Martin, and a daughter, Dorothy.

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