By Kathleen Swift
Photos by Artistic Expressions Photography
There are some people who bless a community beyond what most of us can imagine. Bill Dunn was one of those people. Bill, who passed away in September 2017, was a long-time member of the Carl Junction community and was a man who loved the people in his town.
Remembering Bill with those who knew him elicits stories, laughter and tears. He was a most remarkable man and one who knew how to treat people well and do good for others. He took charge, but as his friend, Richard Smith, who worked with Bill at the Carl Junction Fire District, recalls, “Bill knew the right way to do things, and we did them Bill’s way. But if you knew what you were talking about, he would listen to you and do things your way. He just wanted things done right.”
Ruby Dunn was married to Bill for 61 years, and she remembers that Bill worried about everyone.
“He cared about people, and he loved the fire department. He volunteered as chief because he knew that things needed to be done, and as a volunteer, he could serve on the board,” Ruby says. And he did get things done. Bill was instrumental in getting the Carl Junction Fire District established because he wanted people to have lower insurance rates. Whatever he did, he did it to benefit someone.
“Bill loved people,” says Ruby. “He never met a stranger, and he treated everyone the same. If someone had a problem, he would try to help them. I think Bill knew that all people want is someone to care about them, and he really did care.”
Richard and Pat Smith worked with Bill raising money for MDA each year.
“We collected each year at Stone’s Corner,” Pat says, “and everyone looked for Bill. Some people had a big check and wanted to give it to Bill personally. He knew how to make things fun, too, whatever the project was.”
“Bill was the one who talked me into joining the fire department,” Richard says. “He was open to others and listened and gave credit to others. He respected people. We had a lady who would come around the fire department going through the trash looking for cans to sell. Some of the guys told her not to do that, but Bill said, ‘No let her alone.’ He introduced himself to her and talked to her and treated her just like he would any other citizen. When she learned that Bill had died, she cried and said, ‘He was my friend.’”
Bill saw talent in Pat and encouraged her to run for city council.
“I would never have thought I could do that, but Bill thought I could do it,” Pat remembers. “I served for 16 years, trying to stand up for things for the betterment of the community.”
Teresa Sneed worked closely with Bill for 28 years as his secretary.
“He was always good to me,” says Teresa. “If I was sick, he’d make an appointment for me at the clinic and make sure I went. He was a kind of a father figure to me. One thing I remember is that he might be out all night on a structure fire, but he would clean up and go to work the next morning. He never let too much deter him, even when he was hit by a car during the MDA boot block. He went to the hospital, but he was back the next day making his rounds around town and visiting with people.
“He was willing to help people who needed help through the MDA and through the Christmas baskets that we put together for people in need. One time, a homeless woman showed up in town, and no one really wanted her around, but Bill would talk to her, and Bill and Ruby got her some things that she needed. He saw the humanity in everyone.”
Ruby recalls asking Bill why he asked so many questions of people.
“He told me, ‘Ruby, I want to know about them.’ When Bill died, I got 400 cards, and so many people said how special Bill had made them feel. He had a hug for everyone.”
“We all loved him and miss him,” says Teresa. And it’s no wonder. It is not often we get to know someone lives the ideals most of us strive for. It’s not often a community is lucky enough to have had a treasure like Bill Dunn.
I remember some of his buddies calling him Dollar Bill, we will just say, when he was younger, he was very close with his money. But as the years went by, Bill could not do enough for others. The Carl Junction Fire Department was his first love, after his wife Ruby and daughter Denise. He gave his all to everyone. – Tom Asbell
I keep thinking about the impact that Bill’s life will have for future generations, in ways almost incalculable to imagine. Over his career, Bill saved a lot of lives. Not only that, he established a training facility that has turned out many more individuals who have committed their careers to saving lives. Who knows how far-reaching those actions will be, and what contributions will be made by individuals several generations from now. – Gary Stubblefield
Bill Dunn lived for the fire department and the citizens of Carl Junction. He was one of the first to welcome me to the community after I was sworn in as postmaster of Carl Junction in 2008. He stopped in the post office numerous times to make sure I was settling ok and to see if I needed anything. He was so genuine; the real deal is what I would call him. I miss him every day. – Sharon Clark