Scott Hunter will retire as president of Aiken Communications and publisher of its newspapers, including The Star, at the end of the year.
Ellen Priest, president of Summerville Communications, will succeed him.
Hunter began work as a sports writer at the Aiken Standard in 1973. He later served as sports editor, news editor, managing editor and general manager before being named publisher of the Aiken Standard and president of Aiken Communications in April of 1989.
“I feel very blessed to have found Aiken, the Aiken Standard, Sam Cothran and Evening Post Publishing Company on my first try at a real job. I am very pleased that Ellen will be succeeding me. We worked together for many years in Aiken before her first promotion. She is very smart, very caring and very involved in her community,” Hunter said. “She will be a great leader in Aiken.”
Cothran was Hunter’s predecessor at Aiken Communications. Aiken Communications is owned by Evening Post Industries, the new name for the company previously known as Evening Post Publishing Company.
Priest and Hunter will work through a transition period over the next few months, and Priest will take over at the first of the year. Priest had served as business manager at the Aiken Standard before being promoted to Summerville.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Aiken, where I began my newspaper career over 25 years ago,” Priest said. “Aiken Communications is a wonderful company, and I am honored to be following in Scott’s footsteps. Scott has been a wonderful mentor to me in my career.”
Hunter is a native of Maryland and a graduate of the University of South Carolina and the University of North Carolina.
When he began work in 1973, the Aiken Standard was an afternoon newspaper, published just Monday through Friday.
Cothran was publisher and Hunter managing editor when the Sunday paper was added in 1985. The Saturday edition was added after Hunter became publisher in 1989. The newspaper then changed to a morning publication.
Also occurring during Hunter’s term were the purchase of The Star (North Augusta), the addition of the cable TV channel ASTV; the addition of TootSuite, a digital and marketing division; and the recent additions of The Signal, the newspaper and website for Fort Gordon (Augusta), and Spurs & Feathers, the official publication of the University of South Carolina’s Gamecock Club.
“I have been blessed with having a strong and talented group of leaders,” Hunter said. “Certainly, Ellen was one when she worked here.
Most recently, our leadership team of Tim O’Briant, Terri Cheek, Dee Taylor, Melissa Hanna, Laura Tiedman, Ronnie Butler and Letitia Jefferson have allowed us to move our business forward when newspaper companies all over the country were contracting. They and our many fine staff members have made it a pleasure for me to come to work every day.”
Hunter has been active in a number of community, church and industry organizations.
He served on and chaired the boards of the United Way, the Cumbee Center, First Steps and the Etherredge Center Orchestra.
He is currently vice chair of the Child Advocacy Center board.
He has served as president of the Aiken Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club of Aiken.
Hunter chaired the City of Aiken’s Arts & Culture Committee during its strategic plan in 1993 and was a member of the All-America City Committee in 1997.
He also served on the boards of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce; the USC Aiken Partnership; the Aiken Technical College Foundation; the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center; the Center for African American History, Art and Culture; the Aiken Corporation; Aiken Downtown Development Association; the Salvation Army and Cities in Schools.
Hunter was also influential in starting the Quality of Life group, an informal organization that meets once a month for lunch to talk about and hopefully resolve some community issues at the root cause level.
He has also served as an elder at Aiken’s First Presbyterian Church.
Professionally, he served as president of the S.C. Press Association in 1995 and president of the S.C. Press Foundation.
Hunter was named the 2011 Man of the Year by the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce. He was the 1997 Volunteer of the Year for the United Way. He received the 1998 Distinguished Citizen Award from USC Aiken.
“It has been a privilege to have worked with so many fine people in our community through the years,” Hunter said. “I learned early on that Aiken is a very caring community.”
Hunter had intended to stay in Aiken only about a year, but soon changed that plan.
“I found out early that I couldn’t find a better place to live and work. Joe and Georgena Jiunnies and their family and Lew and Gwen Perkins, in particular, treated me as a family member early on. They helped me realize just what a special community I had come to.”
Hunter met and married Lois Jean McFadden in Aiken. They were married for 28 years before her death in 2009. They have a daughter, Eleanor, who is a student at Aiken Technical College.
Hunter said he will continue to live in Aiken after he retires.
Priest is a native of Middletown, Conn. She has been married to Dr. Jeff Priest for 32 years. He is vice-chancellor at USC Aiken. They have two children, Greg, the Aiken Middle School band director, and Jayme Hightower, finance manager at Pegasus Steel in Goose Creek. She is a graduate of USCA. The Priests have lived in Aiken since 1988.
In Summerville, Priest has served as publisher of the Summerville Journal Scene, the Berkeley Independent (Moncks Corner) and the (Goose Creek) Gazette.
Priest serves as vice president of the Summerville Rotary Club, secretary of the Summerville Family YMCA, treasurer of the S.C. Press Association, vice chair of communications and marketing for the Greater Summerville Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, and treasurer of the Mayor’s Committee on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities.
She was Summerville Rotarian of the Year for 2011-2012 and was named Publisher of the Year for EPI in 2009.