Donald J. Dunn
Jan 4, 1931 – Dec 18, 2017
Passed away at Immanuel Fontenelle Home at the age of 86. He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Marie. L A lifelong Omahan, Don was a graduate of Creighton University, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He had a long career with Lutheran Hospital working as an administrator in the Pathology Department. A Catholic deacon, Don was a member, with colors, of the North Hills Hunt, and for many years served as it chaplain. Survivors include Robyn and Jack Eden, Andrew Eden (Kirsty), and Devin Eden (Katie).
MEMORIAL MASS ON Thursday, Jan. 18th at 10am at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St. Memorials are suggested to North Hills Hunt, 7300 Northland Drive, Omaha, NE 68122.
Donald J. Dunn was born on January 4, 1931, and grew up during the Great Depression. His boyhood home was near what is now downtown Omaha. Brought up in the Catholic faith, he attended grade school on the Creighton University campus, which was within walking distance of his home.
He would earn a Bachelor’s Degree, and later a Master’s Degree in counseling from Creighton University. A man of great curiosity and compassion, he was offered an opportunity to attend medical school, but determined that was not the role for him. His strong science background did serve him well, however, in his long career with the Lutheran Hospital medical system. Don worked in the pathology department, and throughout a career that stretched over three decades, he enjoyed working with judges, law enforcement officers, and doctors with whom he established trusted and much appreciated relationships. In the days before established Crime Scene Investigation units, Don was often called to provide expert testimony in various court cases. He was proud of his work with Judge Pat Lynch, helping to establish a separate drug court.
Shortly after World War II, Don met Marie Garrick. Marie had served in the Army Corps of Nurses in the Philippines during the war. Don was immediately charmed by Marie’s bright smile, twinkling eyes and feisty personality. He called her his “Honey Bunny.” She would forever refer to him as “her handsome man.” The two were married at St. Peter’s Church in Omaha in 1954. For 59 years, until her death in 2013, they were devoted to each other. They loved traveling together and enjoyed exploring new restaurants.
When he was attending classes on the Creighton campus, Don often walked past the Dehner Boot Company, then located on Farnam Street, and wondered about the beautiful riding boots on display there. One day, Donovan Ketzler, the proprietor, saw him, introduced himself, and then introduced Don to a world that would forever influence and enthrall him. Ketzler was a former Cavalry officer and one of the founding members of the North Hills Hunt in Omaha.
Soon, Don became one of its most enthusiastic members. He joined Ketzler, Master of Foxhounds Taylor Snow, Dr. Irvin “Dutch” Blose, J. Allan Mactier, Helmuth Dahlke, Ted and Sue Urban, and others who formed the mainstay of an organization that is still going strong after more than 50 years. The Hunt became Don’s fraternity, and he loved its pomp and pageantry, its military traditions, and the opportunity to ride across beautiful country on his beloved horse, The Barrister. Barry, as he was called, was a rangy chestnut Saddlebred whose quirky, but kind, nature endeared him to Don.
Don became an ambassador for the Hunt as well as the Ponca Hills Farm north of the city, owned by his friend, J. Allan Mactier, which was becoming a leading hunter-jumper barn in the area. Barry was often loaned to aspiring hunt members, teaching them the thrills of the chase and bringing them home safely. Don also became one of the first in the area to earn his steward’s license from the then American Horse Shows Association, and he officiated at many horse shows throughout the Midwest.
Don was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church, and served in that capacity for more than two decades, often teaching baptismal classes. He and Marie were members of St. Margaret Mary parish. He was also chaplain of the North Hills Hunt during that time, performing many Blessings of the Hounds at Opening Ceremonies each Fall.
Although Don’s and Marie’s marriage was not blessed with children, over the years they became a part of the Jack and Robyn Eden family. Don helped officiate at their wedding and was a mentor to Robyn as she earned her steward’s license. He and Marie joined the Edens at major holiday celebrations and marked family milestones with them. As Don and Marie aged, they asked Robyn to be their guardian.
After Marie’s passing, Don moved to the St. John Vianney Center, where he spent enjoyable years until advancing COPD made it necessary for more advanced care at Immanuel Fontenelle home. On December 15th, he was admitted to hospice care and passed away on December 18th.
Don’s friends remember him as a man with a generous spirit, perpetually curious about the world around him, and who had a wicked sense of humor belying a love of “a little intrigue.” He was, above all, a man of compassion and spiritual depth. He knew how to listen, with both the head and the heart. He enjoyed finding balance and led a life of practicality. For him, sufficient was as good as a feast, and he was grateful for what life had given him. He admired St. Francis of Assisi and was convinced of the positive effects animals have on human beings.
We remember, and cherish, a man of strong faith, a keen sense of justice, deep compassion, steadfast loyalty, and who had boundless love of the countryside and the gentleman’s way of life. We are grateful for all he taught us and for his life of service. The huntsman’s horn has blown “Gone Away” for Donald Dunn, and now sounds “Coming Home.”