Manatee's Hunsader called a farmer who had a green thumb for people

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- Joseph Hunsader's family was concerned that he would sound too sappy or too good to be true if they told everything about him.

Here was a 6-foot-tall man who, wearing his farmer work boots, stopped by to visit his mother, Joyce Hunsader, every day just to kiss her on the forehead and grab a handful of her homemade chocolate chip cookies.

He lay in bed an hour each morning praying, family said.

He called his fiancee, Pamela Harvey of Sarasota, nearly every day and said, "How is the most wonderful girl in the world?" They were to be married May 11, the family said.

But sappy, they agreed, was a key part of Joseph Hunsader's life, who died at age 51 Monday morning in Sarasota of what family members believe was a massive and instant heart attack.

He was a nearly lifelong Manatee County farmer and businessman whose cousins, David and Mike Hunsader, own Hunsader Farms on County Road 675 and put on the annual Hunsader Fall Festival.

Joseph Hunsader's death came one day after he walked his daughter, Megan, 26, down the aisle to marry Jordan Chancey at Winter Park Farmer's Market near Orlando before 50 people.

The family is elated that Mr. Hunsader got to be a part of his daughter's wedding.

"I didn't expect him to cry but he was crying all the time we were walking down the aisle," Megan Chancey said. "I think we all feel he left on top. He was so happy."

At 7:30 a.m. Monday, Hunsader awoke at his fiancee's home in Sarasota and told her he didn't feel well.

Suddenly, he leaned against the kitchen counter, grabbed his chest and said to her, "I'm having a heart attack."

He then collapsed on the floor. Despite Harvey's CPR and frantic efforts at Doctor's Hospital for 40 minutes, Hunsader could not be revived, Harvey said.

Hunsader loved anything mechanical and could fix anything, family members said.

He and his son, Matthew, 23, were eternally together and earned the tag, Batman and Robin.

Like superheroes, the pair would stop to help a person broken down by the side of the road or a senior citizen struggling with groceries, the family said.

"He was everyone's friend," Harvey said. "He never met a stranger. One time he got a wrong number on his phone and talked to the guy for 15 minutes. They ended up having friends in common."

"He was so giving," said his sister, Ann Hunsader.

He was born into farming. In 1967, when the town of Manitowoc, Wis., bought the Hunsader family dairy farm to expand the local airport, Hunsader's mother and father, Joyce and Robert, moved their young family, including his sister, Ann, and brother, Ken, to Manatee County.

Also moving were his uncles, Jim and Paul, along with their wives, Connie and Jan, and their young families.

Robert, Jim and Paul Hunsader then started Hunsader Brothers farm on C.R 675.

At age 8, Joseph Hunsader began learning the farming business at Hunsader Brothers.

In 1992, the second generation of Hunsaders bought Hunsader Brothers from their elders and changed the name to Hunsader Farms.

In 2003, Joseph's cousins, David and Mike Hunsader, bought his share of Hunsader Farms along the west side of C.R. 675, the family said.

The Hunsader family continue to own 500 acres on the east side of C.R. 675, across the street from Hunsader Farms.

A visitation is scheduled 6-8 p.m. and a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Shannon Funeral Home Westview Chapel, 5610 Manatee Ave. W.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at noon Saturday at Saints Peter & Paul the Apostles Catholic Church, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton.

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