Longtime Dallas businesswoman, philanthropist, and writer Caroline Rose Hunt passed away on Tuesday, November 13 at the age of 95. In 2008 Ms. Hunt donated her personal papers to the Archives of Women of the Southwest at the DeGolyer Library. Her papers include letters, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, speeches, diaries, awards, and business related papers from the Rosewood Corporation. These materials chronicle the life of one of Dallas’ leading ladies from her childhood through today and are useful to researchers interested not only in Ms. Hunt’s biographical information but also in business history and women’s studies.
Caroline Rose Hunt was born in El Dorado, Arkansas on January 8, 1923, to Haroldson Lafayette and Lyda Bunker Hunt. She attended school at Hockaday, Mary Baldwin College, and the University of Texas at Austin. In 1943 she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and in 2006 she was named a Distinguished Alum of the University of Texas.
Known as a savvy business woman, Ms. Hunt founded Rosewood hotels and resorts, a worldwide chain of exclusive hotels and resort properties in the 1980s. It began when she purchased an old Dallas Mansion about to be torn down, and built the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. She went on to own and manage twenty two luxury hotels around the world, as well as a line of luxury bathing and skin products. Lady Primrose’s Shopping English countryside antique shop opened in 1987 and it was named the best spot for tea in the US by the British Tea Council.
Though she was a very successful hotelier and business woman, she had another secret passion in life. On this page of her diary in 1974, Caroline talks about her dream to be a writer. Her trouble was finding ways to end her stories, and she wondered if it was possible to be a writer at the age of 51. Well, at the age of 77 Caroline finally published her first novel Primrose Past: The 1848 Journal of Young Lady Primrose in 2000.
One of Caroline’s other loves in life was pumpkins. She published The Compleat Pumpkin Eater cookbook, and even owned a charter helicopter company called Pumpkin Air.
Caroline was a longtime supporter of many organizations in Dallas including: the United Way, the Junior League of Dallas, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Texas Council, the Tiffany Circle of the Red Cross, the Celebration of Reading, the Heritage Foundation, Crystal Charity Ball, James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, Charter 100, The Dallas Woman’s Club, as well as numerous other non-profits and arts groups. For ten years she served as a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
Despite being one of the richest women in the world, she preferred to live her life in moderation and comfort. Instead of extravagance, Caroline invested in her family and her community. She once summarized her philosophy of Life:
“I am not aggressive. I let life come to me. I try to be a positive, living person with whomever I interact. I try to just accept life. I would say if I did anything in life it would be to live each day happily.”
The Caroline Rose Hunt papers are open to researchers. Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information, or assistance with accessing the collection.