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James A. Gunn passed away comfortably in his home on February 24 next to his wife and surrounded by family and caregivers. Born March 19, 1924 in Green Bay WI he lived a full and rewarding life.
Jim was a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers and told stories of riding into games on the shoulders of players who would grab kids on the rope line as they entered the stadium. As a child of the Depression it was the only way he could get into games. During high school he played football on the same field the Packers used for practice.
During WWII Jim joined the Navy to become a medic and received training as a Badger, Wildcat and Wolverine while becoming a physician. At Northwestern he met and won the life-long love of his wife, Patty Stilson of Anderson IN. Last September they celebrated their 72nd anniversary.
After serving during the Korean War in El Paso TX, Jim and Patty moved to Grand Rapids where he accepted a position at Blodgett Hospital as a radiologist. For a time he was the only radiologist in Kent County and would shuttle between Blodgett and Butterworth reading films and treating patients. He was the Chief of Radiology at Blodgett for over 20 years and built an excellent reputation in his field.
Jim was active and athletic. He was a tennis champion in Wisconsin and an early alpine skier. He and Patty began skiing before there were rope tows – they would climb the hill for each run. He was a founding member of the Grand Rapids Ski Club and a long-term member of the Grand Rapids Yacht Club.
He loved wooden boats, building several and restoring many more. He became a private pilot with instrument and commercial certifications, owning several planes and performing acrobatic maneuvers to sharpen his skills. He and Patty flew their single engine airplane to every state in the continental US (following Lindberg’s route), Alaska and Mexico.
Jim was a generous and caring man with a great sense of humor! For Thanksgiving, he would drop off 20 turkeys to God’s Kitchen and regularly made donations to a wide range of organizations. He was devoted to his children and family, and would promote their well-being however he could.
Jim loved teaching and became a mentor to many physicians and college kids (Dad’s Lads) who he would employ to help with his varied projects. Years later many would stop in for visits to catch up.
He and Patty regularly attended church and their spiritual journey included memberships at Trinity Methodist, Fountain Street and Westminster churches.
Jim is survived by his wife Patty, daughter Carolyn (Bob Coulter), son Tom (Jody), daughter-in-law Jeannie Gunn (Brooks), and grandson Remy Gunn (Amanda). His oldest son Bob (Jeannie) proceeded him in death as have his 3 siblings. He was also beloved by nieces, nephews and many friends and colleagues.
Funeral services will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Monday March 12 at 11 am with visitation one hour before the ceremony.
Donations to Hospice of Michigan would be gratefully appreciated.
Hospice of Michigan
989 Spaulding Ave. S.E., Ada MI 49301