Caroline Rose Hunt, Texas oil heiress, noted businesswoman, author, and philanthropist, is best-known for her role in the Rosewood Hotel Group, which includes such notable Dallas properties as the Mansion on Turtle Creek and Hotel Crescent Court. She became one of the nation’s wealthiest women in the 1980s by diversifying her oil and gas inheritance and successfully expanding into apparel, charter helicopter and small-plane services, shopping centers, office complexes, and luxury hotels in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Hunt was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, on January 8, 1923, to pioneer oilman Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, Jr., and his wife Lyda (Bunker) Hunt. Her six siblings included Margaret Hunt Hill, H. L. Hunt III, Lyda Bunker Hunt, Nelson Bunker Hunt, William Herbert Hunt, and Lamar Hunt. At age seven Caroline and her family moved to Tyler, Texas, and then to Dallas in 1938. She attended Hockaday School for Women in Dallas, Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, and received her B. A. in English and history at the University of Texas in 1943.
On September 21, 1943, Hunt married Loyd Bowner Sands, and she devoted the next three decades to community service, her church, and raising their five children—Steve, Bunker, David, Laurie, and Patrick. Her marriage to Loyd Sands ended in 1973. Caroline later married Hugo W. “Buddy” Schoellkopf, Jr., but the couple divorced in 1987, and Hunt reverted to her maiden name.
In 1979 Rosewood Hotels and Resorts was established. The company acquired the Dallas home of Sheppard King and converted the property into the five-star Mansion on Turtle Creek. Rosewood Hotels and Resorts eventually expanded to eighteen owned and managed properties worldwide with a brand dedicated to a commitment of excellence. Hunt was also owner of Silver Star Aviation, an emergency helicopter service that operated in eight states.
In the early 1980s Rosewood constructed its signature development, the Crescent, and later Rosewood Court. The property is now regarded as the first development of Uptown Dallas. Hunt was the guiding force behind the Rosewood Corporation, and she was motivated not only by making sound business decisions but also creating something that would benefit Dallas. The décor of the hotels reflected Hunt’s tastes in rare antiquities and the fine art of various periods. She had a nearly-lifelong love of gardening, a passion that translated to the fresh flower arrangements that enhanced the hotels’ interiors as well as their landscaped acreage and garden rooms. Through her influence, the critically-acclaimed restaurant at the Mansion moved from strictly French cuisine to also highlighting the tastes of Texas and the Southwest. Hunt once said, “There is a part of me in each of the hotels,” and she ran her Rosewood Corporation as a “family,” instilling in the hotel group and its subsidiaries an ethos of excellent service.
Her personal business ventures included ownership of Lady Primrose’s Shopping English Countryside, an English antique shop at the Crescent in Dallas, and Lady Primrose’s Royal Bathing and Skin Luxuries line. In addition to being offered in the Rosewood hotels, the Lady Primrose product line was sold in stores across the country, including Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Her love of English life and of literature also inspired her book Primrose Past: The 1848 Journal of Young Lady Primrose (2000), which recreated life in Victorian England. She also authored a cookbook, The Compleat Pumpkin Eater (1980), a collection of 440 recipes for pumpkin. In 1983, at the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala in Houston, her original almond-pumpkin bisque took the top prize.
Hunt was named one of the Most Influential Women in the U.S.A. by Ladies Home Journal. She was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1999. For ten years she served as a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Hunt was a co-founder of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and a longtime supporter of many organizations, including the Junior League of Dallas, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Texas Council, the Tiffany Circle of the Red Cross, the Celebration of Reading, the Heritage Foundation, the Crystal Charity Ball, the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, Charter 100, the Dallas Woman’s Club, and numerous other non-profits and arts groups. Hunt also donated to a number of Republican political campaigns and committees and was extremely active in the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where she taught Sunday school, served on various boards and committees, was the chairwoman of the Early Childhood Division for seven years, and was chosen as the church’s first woman deacon in 1971.
Despite being one of the richest women in the world, she preferred to live her life in moderation. Instead of extravagance, Hunt 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.”
Caroline Rose Hunt died at the age of ninety-five in Dallas on November 13, 2018. She had suffered a stroke a few weeks earlier. She was laid to rest in the Highland Park Presbyterian Church Columbarium.