Clinton Lunt Jr., who spent more than three decades as a United Methodist minister at churches throughout Long Island and who survived a harrowing gunshot wound as a teenager, has died. He was 81.
He died of congestive heart failure Feb. 28 in Berea, Ohio, where he had moved to be near his two children, his family said.
Lunt’s path to ministry was born on the Great South Bay in 1952, when a clammer who never passed that way happened by as Lunt lay bleeding from a duck hunting accident that nearly killed him.
Lunt, then a 17-year-old student at Lindenhurst High School, had decided to go duck hunting with a friend on the bay, recalled Lunt’s brother, Carter Lunt of Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Eventually the two decided to separate, going to two small islands, and as Clinton Lunt “was pulling the boat up on the shore the gun discharged in his thigh, and blew quite a hole,” his brother said. A Boy Scout, Lunt tied a tourniquet around his leg to slow the bleeding.
But the sun would be going down soon, and he was losing substantial blood, his brother said.
“He was out there an hour bleeding and this clammer was coming home from his work and he came by this island which he said he never did before and he saw a boat there,” Carter Lunt said. “So he pulled in and there’s my brother laying in the boat, half alive, half dead.”
The clammer rushed Lunt across the bay, and he was taken by police to a hospital, where workers started blood transfusions.
“They tried to save his life for several days. He was really critical,” said Carter Lunt, who was 15 at the time. “It was really traumatic in our lives.”
Doctors initially thought they would have to amputate Clinton Lunt’s leg but were able to save it.
The incident seemed to spark Lunt’s later desire to become a minister. His family had long been active in the Grace United Methodist Church in Lindenhurst.
“I think that my brother when he grew up kind of realized it, maybe that was his calling,” Carter Lunt said. “I think God led that clammer to where he came in and saved his life.”
Clinton Lunt Jr. went on to attend Syracuse University, and after graduating in 1960 studied at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He was ordained as a deacon in 1962 and as an elder in 1964.
Most of his career was spent on Long Island, although he also served stints at churches in Thomaston, Connecticut, and Warwick and Bloomville, New York.
“He was a very fine man,” said Wardean Henry, a member of the Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor United Methodist Church since 1958 who knew Lunt when he was associate pastor there in the 1970s. “He was very well-received by the members of the United Methodist Church.”
Lunt served congregations in Lawrence, Valley Stream, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, East Norwich and Central Islip before retiring in 2000.
“He really loved Long Island. That was really his home,” said his daughter, Allison Stallard, of Berea, Ohio.
Lunt also is survived by his wife, Theresa Lunt, and his son, Daniel Lunt, both of Berea, Ohio; and a sister, Darien Vogelsberg, of Canton, Georgia. His first wife, Nancy Lunt, to whom he was married for 38 years, died in 2001.
Lunt’s remains were cremated, and a memorial service is planned for this summer at Mill Neck Manor School for Deaf Children in Mill Neck, where the family said donations may also be made.