Hugh Tallman Gunn
July 4, 1934 – May 14, 2020
Thursday, May 14th, 2020, Hugh Tallman Gunn, loving husband and father of five, passed away at the age of 85.
Hugh was born on the 4th of July 1934 in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of Victor and Mae Tallman Gunn. An early interest in electronics and engineering led him to become fluent in Morse Code at the age of 13. At 15, he received his Amateur radio license and call sign W0WFP. During High School, Hugh's savvy for engineering and need to make money led him to open a part-time car repair shop in his brother's driveway. Graduating in 1952 from Sheldon High School, Sheldon, Iowa he attended the University of Iowa, ever fueling his lifelong passion for electronics and engineering. While at college, needing money to pay for his car, he began working as an announcer at the campus radio and tv station which required him to obtain a first-class radiotelephone FCC license. He continued there for two years as an announcer and according to him, “I had more fun broadcasting than attending classes.”
Feeling the call during the Korean draft, his interest in aviation led him to seek out an Air Force recruiter. He was chosen for the Air Force “Aviation Cadets” Program – a predecessor to the Air Force Academy. During training, he was stationed at Lackland, Reese, and Bryan, AFBs in Texas and Malden AFB in Missouri. He went on to become the Distinguished Graduate of class 56T. During this time, he met the love of his life, Joan LeSchander, whom he married following graduation. Hugh then went to Moody AFB, GA for F-89 Interceptor Training School which he enjoyed so much that he decided to become an instrument flight instructor. In 1960, he began attending Oklahoma State University eventually receiving both a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1963, he was assigned to Olmstead AFB, PA.
In 1966, Hugh served in Vung Tau, Vietnam where he transported troops, cargo, and refugees out of endangered villages in the de Havilland C-7 “Caribou.” During these trips, Hugh leveraged his knowledge of electronics and gathered equipment to build a robust Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) station in Vung Tau enabling over 2000 G.I.s to call loved ones back home. He also volunteered off-duty time at an orphanage and coordinated donations to the children there from the United States.
A decorated combat pilot, Hugh was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing 5 emergency night sorties under hostile fire in adverse weather into a marginal airstrip illuminated by flare pots to move troops and ammunition. He also received the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters and numerous other gallantries.
In 1967, he was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, OH, where he finished his military career. With his superb knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he became a volunteer English teacher for refugees at the YMCA. Following his retirement from the Air Force, he worked as an engineer for Belden Wiring before founding two electronic wire and cable manufacturing and distribution centers, Astro Industries and then Advanced Wire and Cable.
As an avid pilot, Hugh continued to fly with his favorite co-pilot, Joan, and the family all over the US in his Cessna 337 long after his outstanding Air Force career ended. In addition to flying, he enjoyed music, hunting, fishing, softball, and humor with his family and friends. His love of music was broad, ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Metallica and AC/DC which he loved to share with everyone. He also enjoyed acting and singing and lent his beautiful tenor voice whenever requested. Although Hugh would convey a serious façade at times, those who knew him realized he was ready at any moment to interject a bit of awesome humor into the conversation.
Hugh was a member of many organizations. A 32nd degree Mason, he was part of the Valley of Dayton, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Shriners, and a 67-year member of Morningside Masonic Lodge no. 615 in Sioux City, Iowa. He was also a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Clan Gunn Society, Scotland, numerous Officer Associations, Toastmasters, and a card-carrying member of Mensa.
Hugh is survived by Joan LeSchander Gunn, his loving wife of 64 years; daughters, Deborah Laughhunn (Mike) of Xenia; Rebecca Key (Richard) of Beavercreek; Valerie Heberle (David) of Castroville, TX; sons, Ethan Gunn (Cheryl) of Oakwood; Daniel Gunn (Elaine) of Redmond, Washington; grandchildren, Nicole Key (Stephanie); Jeremy Nelson (Alexis); Justin Key (Summer); Rachel Couper (Eric); Nathaniel Laughhunn (Michelle); Emma Gunn; Matthew Laughhunn; Sydney Gunn; Zachary Gunn; Evan Gunn; Bradley Heberle; great-grandchildren, Maike Nelson; Wyatt Nelson; and cousin Maxine Overmyer of Florida.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Victor Gunn, sister Betsy Gunn Hoppe and special aunt Beryl Long. To quote one of Hugh’s favorite poems, “I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings… Put out my hand and touched the face of God.” - John Gillespie Magee
The memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Tobias Funeral Home, 3970 Dayton-Xenia Rd. Pastor Nate Laughhunn will officiate.
Friends will be received 1-3 p.m. in the funeral home for visitation walk through.
Family requests masks must be worn and practice social distancing.
In Lieu of Flowers, donations in his name may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.
- Shriners Hospital for Children
Visitation - Family Requests Masks and Social Distancing
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Funeral Service - Family Requests Social Distancing and Masks
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Hugh Tallman Gunn
Debbie Hope Burleigh
May 22, 2020
I forget to mention Uncle Hugh's green thumb. He kept their home in Beavercreek with more flowering plants than I could count. He told me the names of all of them and would update me with the additions every time I visited. It was great to explore his gardens, I wish I remembered at least one of the flowers name.
Walt and Jane Gunnison
May 21, 2020
With sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
May 20, 2020
One thing I dearly remember is the fishing trips we made to Canada. In one special trip, besides Becky and Richard and myself and of course Hugh, we decided to take along Dan. Dan irritated Hugh because Dan had said to me"Hey give me two lures to put on my fishing line and that way I can catch twice as many fish." I remember also the days when we would spontaneously jump into his airplane, fly over to Indiana, park the plane in front of the restaurant and go in for dinner. So many great experiences over the years. I will wholeheartedly miss you Hugh.
Debbie (Hoppe) Burleigh
May 19, 2020
I am lucky to have many memories of my fun Uncle Hugh. One of many I remember is him blasting "American Pie" in his living room with the biggest smile on his face, singing along, much to the chagrin of my Aunt Joan, and I was loving every minute of it and singing with him. His engineering knowledge was astounding, I remember him telling me about the computer systems he designed and installed and me pretending to understand. I bet he knew I was bluffing lol. When Debbie and I went to Walt Disney World and I left my standard shift car at his house, he couldn't get it to start. I had to tell him the trick was to push the clutch all the way to the floor. So for once in my life, I taught him something, instead of vice versa.
Judith Gunn Bronson
May 19, 2020
I was about 10 years old, and Uncle Hugh was in high school or college. He and Daddy and I were sitting around the dining room table, and Hugh was doing his math homework. He started reading this word problem. It was about two trains, one going east and one going west so that they were due to pass each other. The problem went on and on, and Hugh kept reading, as we are all wondering what this would be all about. At the end, the question the student had do answer, was "How far is it to Brooklyn?" We all dissolved in laughter...for one thing, we were in central Iowa and had no knowledge of Brooklyn. How far is it to Brooklyn? got to be a family joke; what we would say if somebody asked a pointless question.
May 19, 2020
I first met Grandpa when Dan and Elaine married in 2000. His granddaughter Nicole Key, and I had been dating for a year, and she wanted me to be a guest at their wedding. All I can say is Gramp and Gram although, they did not quite understand our relationship at first, they and the rest of the family welcomed me with open arms, and realized by that Christmas, that I was going to be sticking around a while.😉
Fast forward to 21 years later. I have been so very fortunate to call the Gunn Clan my family, and to call Hugh, Grandpa... We have celebrated many weddings, (including ours that they traveled to Indianapolis to witness, making the day so much more special). Dinners at China Buffet, Clancy's, and Los Mariachis... Cutting a rug (his words) in NOLA, camping trips to Kelley's Island and across the country to WA. Countless 4th of July/birthday cookouts and pool parties for our very own Yankee Doodle Dandy... He told the BEST jokes, and did the best impressions. He was PROUD of the family he and Gram built, and had a zest for living life to the fullest, which he did marvelously.
I will miss his silly grin, sitting with him in their kitchen while he read the paper, eating green olives, and drinking Dos Equis on the back porch while he smoked a stogie. But most of all, I will miss him hugging me, and telling me he loved me, because he didn't have to, but he chose to.
Thank you Grandpa for being you, I will cherish these memories always, and thank you for letting me love your first grand baby, Nicole.
(You're bonus redheaded granddaughter),
May 18, 2020
Dear Joan and family,
Oh, how we love you and pray for all of you, and how we miss Uncle Hugh. We have so many memories, especially of talking about flying, and flying our little Bonanza into Dayton to visit, and admiring Hugh’s push-me-pull-you (the Cessna 337).
He will live on in our memories, and we’ll see him again. We can just imagine the reunion with Vic & Marge and Betsy & Don and his mom and dad! While there is sorrow on earth, there is surely rejoicing in the heavens.
Sorry we won’t be able to join you for his service.
Much love, Cynthia, Serguey, and family