Gordon Lee Bunch
September 30, 1925 – February 14, 2018
Gordon Lee Bunch died peacefully in his Houston home on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, with his children and their spouses at his bedside.
He was born September 30, 1925, in Brazil, Indiana to parents Sellers Norwood Bunch and Stella May Lambert. Gordon was the eldest of four brothers: Frank who resides in Denton, Texas, with his wife, Diane; Paul who lives with his wife, LoRee, in White Rock, New Mexico; and Ralph who lives in Panorama City, California.
In 1930 his family moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he grew up with three brothers, including twins nine years younger.
Gordon graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City in 1943 and entered the military when he was 17 years old. He enrolled in an Army Air Corps Cadet Program, and was called to active duty on his 18th birthday. In between high school and reporting to duty, he attended The University of Oklahoma for a full semester.
Although he spent five-and-a-half years in the military, [October 1943 – March 1949] two of those during wartime, practically everything he did pertained to aviation training missions, flying no actual combat missions.
In 1945, he graduated The U.S. Army/Air Force Navigator School. He was commissioned at Ellington Field in Houston; attended radar operators’ school in Victorville, California; then reassigned to a radar counter measure squadron in Riverside, California, as a navigator in the modified B-29 bombers.
In November 1945, he was assigned to the 7th Geodetic Control Squadron at Buckley Field in Colorado. It was a project led by a civilian company doing experimental work on radar type electronic works. The work his squadron did then was the original groundwork in the development of the GPS systems we use today -- as well as for many other classified military applications.
When the process was refined and crews were satisfied with the results, the squadron transferred to MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida, which was Gordon’s favorite Air Force assignment. Between 1945 and 1948, he flew various missions to – Greenland; Puerto Rico; Guatemala; the Aleutian Islands, Alaska; and, Cuba.
His squadron was just about finished training and ready to deploy to Hickam, Hawaii, or another Pacific location, when the atomic bomb was dropped. The war ended and all assignments were cancelled or changed.
In May 1949, he was honorably discharged from the newest military branch, the U.S. Air Force (as of September 17, 1947), as a first lieutenant serving while assigned in the 343rd Photo Recon Squadron.
In 1949, Gordon met his wife-to-be in a Sunday school class at St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. His family had attended this church since he was a child. He proposed to Mary Ann on Valentine’s Day in1951. Gordon and Mary Ann married June 2 that summer while he was still in college. They honeymooned in Chicago, Illinois.
Upon his graduation in 1952 from The University of Oklahoma in Norman with a degree in chemical engineering, they moved to Port Arthur, Texas. There he began work for Jefferson Chemical Company, Inc.
In 1956, his job sent him to Boston, Massachusetts, for a six-month temporary duty and Mary Ann quit her job and went with him. This proved to be one of the most enjoyable periods of their lives. They went to the Broadway musical The King and I and on the weekends they took many side trips all over the New England area, travelling as far as they could sight seeing.
In 1960, his work moved them to Houston and they settled in the Spring Branch area where they joined Fair Haven United Methodist Church.
Mary Ann and Gordon’s first child, born a few years after being married, died shortly after birth. Their other three children were born in 1958, 1959, and 1961 following several miscarriages. Donald and Mary Beth were born in Port Arthur and Beverly was born after moving to Houston, all within three and one-half years. They were very proud of their children, and things got very busy for them, working and raising three children.
Between 1961-1985 as his children were growing up, he enjoyed many hobbies. He spent many months studying and planning vacations to various locations in the United States for the family. He took his young family and mother-in-law on numerous road trips to camp in the National parks. He even built special wooden boxes to use as storage containers and luggage carriers and painted them bright orange.
He enjoyed looking at investment land properties in the Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston areas, taking the family on weekend trips to these areas to consider purchasing lots. He finally bought lots in River Plantation that he later sold.
He was definitely a thinker and a planner. He loved studying, planning, analyzing many situations, rarely making a quick decision. He would spend a year researching, and making comparisons before purchasing a car or just about anything.
Gordon and Mary Ann had a network of friends who played duplicate bridge once a month for decades. He was very competitive in playing games. He looked forward daily to the newspaper so he could get to work on the daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles. And he subscribed to many educational magazines, which he read from cover to cover – National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Sky & Telescope.
He was an accomplished piano player and music sight-reader. He played the piano at home while Mary Ann sang. The family enjoyed hearing him play, especially the Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor.
Gordon played golf regularly with a group of men from Texaco for years and he enjoyed playing golf with Donnie at various Houston golf courses. While visiting Hot Springs Village on a vacation, he bought a lot, thinking they might retire someday to a golf community in Arkansas. He and the family enjoyed attending the live professional golf tournaments each year in Houston.
Watching sports on tv was probably his favorite television viewing – baseball, basketball, golf, and football. His favorite was baseball, and he loved watching the Astros – but only when they were winning. He frequently turned the games off when they got behind and came back later in the game hoping the outcome had improved. OU Sooner football was always popular.
He enjoyed babysitting his grandkids when they were young.
After he retired from Texaco, (1952-1985), at age 60, Gordon and Mary Ann travelled frequently and have visited every American state except Hawaii. He enjoyed travels that involved genealogy research in Mississippi and Louisiana. Their Alaskan cruise in 1999 was a favorite vacation trip.
Gordon’s later research passions over many decades were recording, cataloging and listening to classical music while painstakingly creating a huge personal library from blank audio cassettes; relentlessly pursuing the origin of his personal genealogy; and, the laborious seeking of truth through the lens of historical accuracy of the Bible through other sources about Christianity.
Gordon is survived by brothers: Frank Bunch and wife, Diane; Paul Bunch and wife, LoRee; and, Ralph Bunch. Children: Donald Lee Bunch; Mary Beth (Bunch) McKenna and husband, Mike McKenna; granddaughter, Sarah (McKenna) Chavez and husband, Marco Chavez and great-grandson, Diego Chavez; Beverly Ann (Bunch) Carter and husband, Ken Carter; grandson, Chip Rogers and wife, Jennifer, and granddaughter, Amy Rogers.
Visitation will be at Waltrip Funeral Directors, 1415 Campbell Road, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 19. Graveside services and interment will be at Woodlawn Garden of Memories on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m., where military honors will be rendered by members of the U.S. Air Force and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8790, Honor Guards. A memorial service and reception will follow at Fair Haven United Methodist Church (Chapelwood), 1330 Gessner Dr. in Houston, 77055.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcomb Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77030, a non-profit organization; or, Fair Haven United Methodist Church Food Pantry, 1330 Gessner Dr., Houston, Texas 77055-4005.
- Visitation Monday, February 19, 2018
- Graveside Service Tuesday, February 20, 2018
- Memorial Service Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Gordon Lee Bunch
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February 17, 2018
May God's loving kindness comfort you and help you through this very sad time