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Patricia Gunn passed away comfortably at home at age 93 on May 8 having been afflicted by dementia for many years. She was preceded in death by her husband of 72 years, Jim Gunn, her eldest son, Robert Gunn (Jeannie Brooks) and her middle sister Joann who died in childhood.
Patty was born June, 1925 to Ward and Vera Stilson of Anderson IN. She attended Northwestern University where she met Jim Gunn of Green Bay. They fell wildly in love and were married in 1945.
After marriage, Jim and Patty lived in Wisconsin, Ann Arbor, and Texas until they moved to Grand Rapids in 1955 where they resided for the rest of their lives, raising 3 children.
While in El Paso, Patty hosted an early televised cooking show where she would intersperse recipes and cooking tips with commercials she presented for products she used. She entered and won the Mrs. Texas contest and represented Texas at the Mrs. America competition. Patty was a shoe-in to win the pageant until her husband kabashed the idea by informing the judges that she wouldn’t be able to perform the travel the position would require. In any event she won an oven and range as Most Congenial for her efforts.
Patty was very active in her community. She was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and enjoyed her involvement with that sorority throughout her adult life. Patty volunteered at Trinity Methodist Church where she taught Sunday school, served weekly meals for the elderly, and participated in study groups. She was a long-standing member of the Bissell Guild at Blodgett Hospital, cooking and serving meals in the hospital’s coffee shop. Patty was also a frequent volunteer at Mary Free Bed helping children cope with injury and trauma.
In the mid-seventies, Patty returned to college at the University of Michigan where she earned her Master’s degree in Social Work. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, she joined GRCC in the adult education department where she counseled women to make career changes and complete their Associates Degree. Patty loved her career and colleagues and made an enormous impact to the program. She also became a founding member of the Women’s Resource Center.
Jim and Patty had a family cottage for 54 years in the Horton Bay Club on the north shore of Lake Charlevoix. This retreat became an important part of her family’s and friends’ lives for skiing, tennis, sailing, birding, communing with nature, and developing many close and long-standing relationships.
Patty was an active woman with a kind and caring disposition. One of her most enduring characteristics was her ability to find good in unfavorable circumstances – she believed in personal growth, life as a journey, and the ability of people to learn. She was a sweet, generous, and gentle person.
Patty and Jim enjoyed a rich marriage full of adventure! They skied before rope tows were invented and flew single-engine planes to Mexico, Alaska, and every state in the continental US following Lindberg’s route. They chartered sailboats and traveled to every major tennis championship, some twice.
Patty attended church often and her spiritual journey included memberships at Trinity Methodist, Fountain Street, and Westminster churches.
Patty is survived by her sister Sally Mackie, daughter Carolyn Gunn (Bob Coulter), son Tom Gunn (Jody), daughter-in-law Jeannie Gunn (Brooks), and grandson Remy Gunn (Amanda), and many nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be held from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Thursday, May 16 at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home. There will be a graveside service for the immediate family following the visitation.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Hospice of Michigan or Women’s Resource Center would be gratefully appreciated.
The family extends deep thanks to the staffs of DMS, Leaves and Hospice for their devoted love and care.
Hospice of Michigan
989 Spaulding Ave. S.E., Ada MI 49301
Women's Resource Center
678 Front Ave. NW #180, Grand Rapids MI 49504