In many respects, Robert “Bob” Dunn defined the meaning of devoted husband and family man. His dedication to his family was without end, and his passions and various interests exemplified Bob’s one of a kind nature. Ever loyal and trustworthy, Bob was someone with whom others could rely for an honest opinion and a positive word. He lived fully surrounded by those he held most dear, leaving a lasting legacy to be remembered always. His generous, kind, and personable nature will be sorely missed and treasured.
By 1935, life was greatly defined by the trials of the Great Depression, yet Americans forged on with lasting hope. President Teddy Roosevelt was re-elected to a second term while Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire danced their way into the hearts of many. Born on June 26, 1935, in Columbia City, Robert Gene Dunn was the youngest of Thomas A. and M. Ruth (Pritchard) Dunn’s seven children. He grew up alongside his siblings, Samuel “Jackie”, Maxine, Gail, Elaine, and Arlis, and sadly, his older sister, Lois passed away at the age of one.
Bob was raised in their family home just on the south edge of town on Swihart Street where he enjoyed the adventures of boyhood. From a young age, Bob’s devotion was clearly evident as he helped care for his older brother who had polio. His family frequently traveled to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for his brother’s doctor visits, yet to no avail, Bob’s family experienced the loss of yet another child when his brother sadly died.
Having attended the local schools, Bob enjoyed playing basketball and football for the Columbia City High School Eagles. Before graduating with the Class of 1954, Bob went on to earn his varsity letter for which he was proud. During his youth, Bob began working in the area onion fields to earn money. After high school, he started painting for Dunn and Culbertson Painting, his father and brother-in-law’s business, and soon he had other things on his mind, as well.
Bob’s heart was forever changed when he and some friends decided to take in a free show at the theater in Larwill. Bob knew from the moment he was introduced to Jean Keiser that night that she was truly special. A pretty young girl, Jean attended Witko High School and before long the two began dating. Married a year after he graduated, Bob pledged his forever love to Jean on Nov. 19, 1955, at Columbia City Church of God by the Rev. Marion Schroyer. The newlyweds moved to a house on her parent’s farm in Etna-Troy Township where Bob realized his passion for farming. It was also the home where they eventually welcomed the births of their children, Carol and Ronald.
Shortly after getting married and with tensions continuing to escalate in Vietnam, Bob heeded the call of duty and joined the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Due to an injury he received from a fall from a house while painting, Bob was medically discharged. He returned home to Jean’s awaiting arms and picked up where he left off in the family painting business. Eventually, Bob landed a job opportunity working for Dana Spicer Axel where he served as a union steward and machinist throughout his 41-year career there.
Bob’s love of farming and being the hard working farmer he was, remained. He started farming with his father-in-law and his zeal for it never changed. His aspirations in farming grew throughout the years and he continued to farm, side-by-side with his son until last year. When it became too hard for Bob to climb into the combine, he’d still drive out to the fields to offer moral support to Ron and the other family members working. Bob absolutely loved being involved with the farm, especially the time spent with Ron. Over the years, he passed on valuable information and experience to him which remains priceless. Always encouraging, Bob never ceased in helping his daughter, Carol out with working on her car and giving sound advice, too. With ways all his own, Bob’s experience, know-how, and listening ear will be surely missed.
Family was Bob’s top priority. Nearly inseparable, he and Jean were always together and enjoyed the best of times. They stood by one another through life’s ups and downs, and with a deep, abiding love, they were the best companions. Bob made a good life for Jean and their family. With his hard work ethic, he was a fine example of a loving and devoted family man. They attended Troy Presbyterian Church, and when grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along, they were Bob’s delight. He loved spending time with them and enjoyed watching them play sports and other involvements.
Bob loved his cars. Right out of high school, he bought a 1924 Model T and having been only the second owner, it still remains in its original form. He was also a collector of tractors and farm toys, along with anything from the Pennsylvania Railroad since they operated on the tracks near his boyhood home. Although he didn’t have a particular brand of tractor he favored, Bob’s favorite tractor included his International Super MTA he bought just after it had been restored. Through his varied interests, Bob enjoyed attending local car shows and going to the Portland Steam Engine Show, and the Power of the Past in Winamac each year. It always proved to be a fun time for him when he went to the harness races and seeing the draft horses in Centerville, Mich.
There was no greater man in the lives of those who knew and loved Bob. Honest and hard working, he was a friend of many and he enjoyed sharing the company of others. In his family he found his greatest joy, and in Bob they found a man of integrity with whom they could look up to with pride and admiration. Although he will be deeply missed, Bob leaves behind much to be remembered.
Robert “Bob” Gene Dunn, 80, Larwill, passed away at 10:40 p.m. Sunday, May 8, 2016, at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne.
Survivors include his loving wife of 60 years: Jean Dunn; daughter: Carol Ormsby, Pierceton; son: Ronald (Lori) Dunn, Larwill; sister: Maxine (Donald) Culbertson, Columbia City; brother: Rev. Gail Dunn, Harrisburg, Pa.; grandchildren: Jennifer Ormsby; Kristi (Derek) Crosson; Heather (Mick) Ames; Trent Dunn; Kayla Dunn; great-grandchildren: Isaiah Holden; Tyler; Kaitlyn; and Alexis Crosson; Alden and Amiah Ames; numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters: Lois Dunn; Elaine Anderson; Arlis Gamble; and a brother: Samuel ‘Jackie’ Dunn.
Visitation is from 2-4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at DeMoney-Grimes Funeral Home, Columbia City. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 12, at the funeral home with Pastor Curtiss Johnson officiating. Burial will follow at Nolt Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made in his memory to Riley Children’s Foundation.