Dr. Michael Hilton Tunnell

2 October, 195419 December, 2014
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Michael Tunnell, 60, died peacefully on Friday, December 19, 2014, at the Norton Pavilion in Louisville, KY. From the first moment of his cancer diagnosis in 2011 until the final decision to enter hospice care, Mike approached his fight with this disease with his characteristic smile, gentle nature, and grace. Mike enjoyed being with us right to the very end, and his last days were filled with visits and messages from beloved family, colleagues, and former and current students. Mike taught and loved so many students over his 40-year career, and one of his last joys was in giving grandson Simon his first toy trumpet.

Mike was born in Tucson, AZ and grew up in Powell, TN, near Knoxville. He was a graduate of UT, where he majored in music/trumpet performance. He pursued graduate degrees at the University of Louisville (MM) and University of Southern Mississippi (DMA), and enjoyed a long career of performing and teaching at numerous colleges and universities. Mike joined the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Music in 1988, and was one of the biggest Cards fans on the planet. He was a member of Crescent Hill Baptist Church.

Mike is survived by his wife, Meme Tunnell; daughter, Dr. Morgan Snyder (Eric); son, Robert Tunnell; and grandson, Simon Calvin Snyder, all of Louisville; parents, Hilton and Winona Tunnell, of Powell, TN; sister, Virginia Williams (Steve), of Knoxville, TN; brother, David Tunnell (Cathy), of Palm Bay, FL; mother-in-law, Camille Fuller; brother-in-law, Robert Fuller (Marla), all of Franklin, KY; and 13 nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11 AM in the Sanctuary of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, 2800 Frankfort Ave. Visitation will be on Monday, December 22, 2014 from 3-8 PM at Arch L. Heady-Cralle Funeral Home, 2428 Frankfort Ave.

A Memorial Concert is scheduled for 2:00 PM on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at the University of Louisville School of Music, Comstock Hall, 2301 S. 3rd St.

Memorial gifts may be made to the University of Louisville School of Music Michael Tunnell Scholarship Fund or to the Michael Tunnell Memorial Scholarship Fund at: or International Trumpet Guild Legacy Fund, PO Box 2688, Davenport, Iowa 52809-2688(please specify Michael Tunnell Fund).

For those folks coming to the service, and play a horn, please bring your horn, and you're invited at the end of the service to partake in a final tribute for Michel in the church balcony.


  • Visitation

    Monday, 22 December , 2014

  • Celebration of Life Service

    Tuesday, 23 December , 2014


Dr. Michael Hilton Tunnell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Laurie Blumer

4 August 2015

I was searching the world of music teacher blogs when I came upon a woman giving thanks to a Dr. Michael Tunnell for his kindness as her trumpet professor. I saw the name and followed the link and learned of Mike's passing. I am so sorry for your family's loss. I have warm memories of the two of you as graduate students at southern. I will always remember the lesson you taught me, never have your husband turn pages, it isn't good for your relationship. Laurie "Blumer" kennedy ( currently Rochester NY)

Richard Wiederman

8 February 2015

I am just finding out about Mike's passing. I am so sad for Meme and his family. I heard from Jake Schorge that he was ill, but I had no idea that he had passed away until Chris Melito (Chris and I studied with Mike at Potsdam back in 1982) told me. Mike Tunnell was a wonderful Trumpet teacher but his humanity is what I'll remember most about him. He was a gentle soul that cared for everyone he came in contact with. He was something special and he certainly made an impression with the Trumpet students at the Crane School of Music. My sincerest condolences to Meme and their children.
May he rest in peace,
Richard Wiederman
Stony Brook, New York

Robert Whaley

6 February 2015

Meme and Family,

I just learned of Mike's passing from reading the "TAPS" section of the International Musician magazine. My wife Judy and I send our most sincere regrets to you and your family. I taught at New England Music Camp in the late 80's with Mike. My son Phil studied with him at the camp.
Indeed, as noted by the many fine Guest Book entries, Mike was a wonderful teacher and and even better man.
Although I have not seen him in many years, I can visualize the times we spent together that summer and how that kindness and gentleness that he showed others set such a good standard for living life. I also remember the pleasure I had in preparing performances with him during that time.
Best wishes to your and your family.

Bob Whaley
Professor Emeritus of Tuba
Western Michigan University

??Cookie and Austin Tiller

18 January 2015

Meme I felt it a priveledge to get to know you , Michael and Tommy over the years.muchael was such a warm and talented man and a joy to be with. I send my thoughts and prayers to the whole family. May he rest in peace

Eric Lindberg

13 January 2015

Dr. Tunnell was my trumpet teacher at ISYM, the summer band camp at University of Illinois, in 1987. His patience and generous nature struck me as special as much as the talent he shared with the campers during evening concerts. The beauty of his sound always stayed with me and always will. I teach high school now and also recognize the true compassionate teacher that he was during those hot summer sessions. Dr. Tunnell's impact on me will always be fondly remembered.

Donnie , Kim , Nick and Chris Towles

3 January 2015

Sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Meme and the rest of the family.

Davud Jones

2 January 2015

Meme, I know you already know that you had just about the best husband and musical partner you could have wished for. And that he was an amazingly decent and spiritual man (not always a hot commodity in the musical world). I just want to add my voice to his praises (and yours since several of his performances and recordings of my music involved your piano skills). His was just about the sweetest sound on trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn and corno di caccia that I have ever heard. So glad Tim Hudson thought to bring me up to New England Music Camp about a quarter century ago to meet yawl. Never be another like him.


David Jones
Head, Music Dept.
Peninsula College

29 December 2014

Mike is the prototype of the person all of us aims for. Thank-you for the encouragement and support over the years. My very best to the family. Galindo Rodriguez, Northwestern State University, trumpet

Nancy Domagala

25 December 2014

Dearest Meme, I am devastated by Mikes passing but know that he "fought the good fight" for as long and as bravely as anyone. My head is filled with the wonderful times we all shared as pals and musicians. Have spent time looking through photo albums...and couldn't help but laugh despite tears. I'm SO thankful that I heard him perform in Champaign not that long ago. My thoughts are with you always.

Steven Towles

24 December 2014

What other neighbor hood has a orchestra
playing for halloween

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