Tribute to Francis O. Hunnewell

Francis O. HunnewellWe are deeply saddened by the passing of our fearless advocate, friend and Chairman Francis O. Hunnewell.

Frank has been with From the Top since our early beginnings. When our founders Jerry Slavet and Jennifer Hurley-Wales set-out to make their "radio idea" a reality, the first person they went to see was Frank.
Frank and Jennifer had worked together for several years at New England Conservatory, where Jennifer directed the Annual Giving program and Frank, a trustee of New England Conservatory and prominent Boston businessman in domestic and international finance, served as her Chairman of the Annual Fund. He was also responsible for recruiting Jerry to join NEC's board.

Jennifer and Jerry had produced a beta test for the radio program -- with Jerry serving as the host and NEC Preparatory students as the featured musicians. Jennifer took her boom box and cassette tape to Frank's office and said: listen to this!

He was hooked. For the next several years this threesome set out to build a concept and create what is now From the Top.

Frank knew how to build an organization, set-up a board, make a case for funding, and proceeded to do just that with Jerry and Jennifer on his wing. He also got us thinking outside the box. He helped develop the  concept for what is now our arts leadership program. Once From the Top was established as a 501c3 in 2003, Frank became Chairman of the new Board of Directors.

Frank with the EmmyFrank was far more than just From the Top's Chairman. He was part of our team. When he wasn't traveling to Tbilisi on business, Frank was an invaluable presence at From the Top. He chose to work from a cubicle in our office, feeding off the crazy and creative personalities of our staff. Frank was the first to grab a sweet treat from the kitchen or send a witty reply to an inner-office email. He frequently asked for spelling advice and was notorious for leaving our annual holiday Yankee swap with the daily desk calendar he himself had brought.

With his Cowboy hat, silk suspenders, European tailored clothing and looming height, he made a big entrance and had a booming passion for music, kids and education. There was no one more persistent than Frank when he had an idea or a target. He's the guy you'd want in your foxhole, the one you would bet on in any race. His commitment was infectious and his tenacity a force to reckon with. He only knew how to win.

We wouldn't be here celebrating our 10th Anniversary without him and we will miss him terribly.

Make a gift in memory of Francis Hunnewell.

Gerald Slavet's remarks at the memorial service for Francis Hunnewell.

Susannah Hunnewell's poem Vroom.