Friday, March 9, 2018

We miss you, Dad

Here is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write:

Mr. William L. “Bill” Dunn, of Park Drive, Clinton, died peacefully surrounded by loved ones at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, on February 16, 2018, at the age of 86.

Bill is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Jane H. Dunn, and his children and their spouses, William (Joyce) of Torrington; Timothy (Paula) of Nashville, TN; Kathryn Scott (Joseph) of Portland; Jeremiah (Nancy) of Clinton; and Cornelius (Cynthia) of Newtown. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Jeremiah and M. Loretta Dunn, and his siblings, Anna, Daniel, Loretta, Jane, and Elizabeth. He is survived by 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Born on December 22, 1931, in New Haven, CT, Bill graduated from Hillhouse High School and in 1954 received a Bachelor’s degree from New Haven State Teachers College (now Southern Connecticut State University). He also earned advanced degrees from the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island. He served four years in the U.S. Navy Reserve and two years in the U.S. Army, but did not root for Navy during the annual Army/Navy football game because the Army never made him seasick.

Bill worked as a teacher in the New Haven school system for 27 years, and during the summers was head lifeguard at the Clinton Town Beach. He organized and ran the Town Beach youth program each summer, and could be found most sunny days perched on a lifeguard chair, and in the days before sunblock, he would wear an oversized pith helmet and protect his nose and lips with bright white zinc oxide. Bill also was the first Parks and Recreation director for the town of Clinton. Upon retiring from teaching, Bill began a second career as the Public Relations Director for the Connecticut Water Company, where he relished the opportunities to charter small planes and take aerial photographs of Water Company properties. He later was elected and served four years as a Probate Court Judge.

Bill was very active in the community, serving as a Clinton Police commissioner, Vice Chair of the Democratic Town Committee, past President of the Clinton Rotary Club, past President of the Clinton Men’s Softball League, past Director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, a Founder and past President of the Clinton Touchdown Club and head coach of the mighty Clinton Packers.

A longtime fan of the Boston Red Sox, New York Giants, Notre Dame football, and UConn basketball, Bill also was a life member of the Elks Club in Westbrook, and a parishioner of St. Mary Church of the Visitation in Clinton. Bill took great pride in his Irish heritage, and was named Irishman of the Year by the Elks Club in 1976.

During much of his adult life, Bill worked many part-time jobs to help support his family. But despite his busy schedule, he always found time to share his knowledge and experience with his children and grandchildren, whether it was the proper way to sing an Irish ballad or how to throw a sharp-breaking curveball. In addition, he loved to work in his garden and tinker at his work bench in the garage. During his final years, he enjoyed nothing better than to drive down to the docks and eat lunch while gazing at his beloved Clinton Harbor.

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I’m going to miss you, Dad. You lived a long, full life, but it still hurts that you’re gone. Please save some seats for us next to Jesus. And since St. Patrick’s Day is coming soon, you can be sure I’ll raise a glass of green O’Doul’s in your honor.

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