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David E. Bunch


August 16, 2018

David E. Bunch, 100, died Thursday, August 9 at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains. He was born September 3, 1917, at the family farm in Williamsburg, Kansas, the oldest of four children of Oscar and Frances (Shepheard) Bunch. He graduated from Williamsburg High School in 1935. During the dust bowl years of the 1930s, he did general farm work at home and for hire in Kansas and Oklahoma before joining the Civil Conservation Corps in Pueblo Colorado in 1937. He learned to operate a transit and to lay out terraces, ditches and dams and qualified as a bulldozer operator.

In October of 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Denver. Following basic training at San Diego, he sailed immediately to Pearl Harbor aboard the U.S.S. Massachusetts. He reported aboard the heavy cruiser U.S.S. New Orleans and was aboard the New Orleans on December 7, 1941 and witnessed the attack at close range. He lost all hearing in his left ear as a result of anti-aircraft fire. He served the entirety of WWII aboard the New Orleans and survived a torpedo hit that killed 600 sailors and caused the ship to steam over a thousand miles backwards to Sidney Australia to keep from sinking. In all, he participated in 14 official engagements with the enemy and was entitled to wear 11 service ribbons, 8 with medals.

David was possibly the only surviving WWII veteran who was present at the attack on Pearl Harbor and at the formal surrender of Japan in Tokyo harbor on September 2, 1945, which marked the end of WWII.

During the war, he met Helen Slye of Seattle at a USO dance there. They were married April 8, 1944. After the war, the couple made their home at Norfolk Virginia. They moved back to Kansas in 1960 after he retired from the Navy. They celebrated their 65th Anniversary in 2009. Helen preceded him in death, later that year.

David continued to live on his own in his own house until age 99. He moved to Montana in February to live with his son Bob.

He worked as bookkeeper for Joe Towner’s Funeral Chapel and Dameron-Towner Chapel and Ambulance in the 1960s and 1970s. He also loved to work on the family farm at Williamsburg where he was born. He raised hay and several head of cattle and built numerous ponds with his D-6 Caterpillar. He was an avid gardener. He could grow anything and raise any fruit and vegetable which he froze, canned and gave to his neighbors. He also made wine. He grew pecan and fig trees, many of which survive him in Kansas and Montana.

He was a life member of the VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and the Fleet Reserve Association. He also was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and owned two Piper Cubs, one of which he flew to Kansas when he moved there in 1960.

He is survived by his brother, James of Mound City, Kansas; sister Thelma Miller of Ottawa, Kansas; daughters Theresa and her husband Tom Keener of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Donita Zundel and her husband Norman of Elk Ridge, Maryland; two sons, Tom and his wife Patty of Ottawa, Kansas, and Bob of Plains, Montana; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Besides his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Joshua Calvin Bunch and infant daughter Catherine.

He will be buried next to his wife Helen at Ottawa, Kansas.

Special thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff at Clark Fork Valley Hospital for their most excellent care and help, and to Sunset Hills Funeral Home.

Any memorial contributions may be made to your favorite Veterans organization.


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