BOV Member Joan Huntley

Dr. Joan Huntley of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, age 88, died on August 5, 2019 at North Carolina Memorial Hospital following a sudden illness. 

Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, Dr. Huntley was a graduate of Mary Washington College (AB, 1953) and received an MPH degree from the University of Virginia in 1962.  After working as a research assistant at Harvard University School of Public Health and Yale University School of Medicine, she pursued further graduate studies in public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from which she received a PhD degree in 1970. 

For the next several years, Dr. Huntley taught and conducted research in the UNC School of Public Health and was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 1975.  Her career then took her to Washington, D.C. where she was a division director in the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health) until retiring to Chapel Hill in 1990. 

In addition to being a member of numerous professional associations, she served as president of the UNC School of Public Health Alumni Association and vice-president of the UNC School of Public Health Foundation.  Dr. Huntley was awarded the H.A. Tyroler Distinguished Alumni Award by the UNC School of Public Health in recognition of the substantial impact she had over her career on the field of epidemiology.  She was the author of numerous scientific articles published in professional journals.

Dr. Huntley was a world traveler and an avid collector of antiques and eighteenth and nineteenth century French paintings.   As an art lover, she enthusiastically supported the North Carolina Museum of Art by serving as a member of the Museum’s board of trustees.  She also provided support to NCMA for the establishment of the Joan and Robert Huntley Gallery and has promised to the museum a valuable collection of Barbizon paintings to be displayed in the Huntley Gallery.

Prior to his passing, Joan and Robert Huntley spent much of their retirement together traveling the world,  when they were not traveling, they enjoyed each other’s company and the serenity of nature in the private escape of their cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  While in this area, Joan became interested in the Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville, Virginia where she was a member of the Board of Directors. In more recent years, she enjoyed spending time with friends and colleagues in Charlottesville, VA, as well as Padua, Italy.  Joan always treasured experiencing local art and culture and continued to do so up until her passing.

Dr. Huntley was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Ross Huntley, M.D., a family physician who served as founding chairman of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.  The Huntleys were generous donors to numerous organizations in North Carolina.  In addition to their donations to the NC Museum of Art, they contributed to the Morehead Foundation, Ackland Art Museum, and Davidson College. 

Joan was devoted to her late husband Robert Huntley, Class of 1949, who first introduced her to Davidson College.  She wholeheartedly embraced its purpose, people, and principles, serving as a lifetime member of the Board of Visitors and a founding member of the Art Collection Advisory Committee. Her legacy lives on in the college’s permanent collection and campus sculpture program.

In 2004 Dr. Huntley established an on-going, annual visiting professorship for the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine in memory of her husband.

Surviving relatives include a niece, Elizabeth Dinsmore Nolan of Darien, Connecticut; a nephew, Paul Dinsmore of Los Angeles, California; three stepdaughters —Julia Mehalik of Leland, North Carolina, Katherine Ponton of Warrenton, North Carolina, and Elizabeth Weide of Bend, Oregon; and a stepson, Jeff Huntley of Woodbridge, Virginia.

A graveside service will be held for the immediate family at Old Chapel Hill Cemetery and a memorial service is scheduled for September.  In lieu of flowers please send donations to the NC Museum of Art, The Ackland Museum of Art, Davidson College or the Morehead Planetarium.

 “Joan Huntley’s commitment to Carolina, from the Ackland to public health, medicine and beyond, was extraordinary.  For many, she was a gateway to the university, welcoming them to this incredible place and making them feel at home.  Her passion for educating our students, encouraging collaboration, and taking care of people in Chapel Hill was inspiring.  The impact of Joan’s generosity, support and love for this university will be felt for decades to come.”  – Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz

“Joan Huntley was a Gillings doctoral student who returned to get her PhD after she had worked in the field of aging for some time.  She was an adjunct faculty member, a respected epidemiologist who focused on issues of aging and worked for the National Institute of Aging,  and a member of the Public Health Foundation Board, generous in her wisdom and contributions to the School.  Dr. Huntley always took a pan-university perspective.  She loved many parts of this university and the larger community.  She was a patron of the arts and was as comfortable talking about a painting as about an aging study.  Her renowned Christmas parties were a great example of her broad network.  She came to our May Foundation meeting as an emeritus board member and joined in an active discussion about how one of our faculty intended to measure cognition in older adults.  We will miss Joan very much.”  – Barbara K Rimer, Dr. PH, Dean Alumni Distinguished Professor – UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health 

The Huntley family is under the care of Walker’s Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.  Please express your online condolence by using the tab below.