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Memphis Funeral Home

5599 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN

OBITUARY

Alvin William Wunderlich, Jr.

April 19, 1918July 16, 2016

Alvin William Wunderlich, Jr. "Chief" of Memphis, Tennessee passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday, the 16th of July, 2016 at the age of 98. He was born on April 19, 1918 to Lillian Scott Wunderlich and Alvin William Wunderlich Sr. in Luxora, Arkansas. Al was preceded in death by his wife Marjorie with whom he shared 67 years. Survivors include his two sons, Bill and Kent Wunderlich, both of Memphis and a daughter, Robin Wunderlich Williams of Vero Beach, Florida; a sister Betty Rachels and her husband Bill; two daughters in law, Jean B. Wunderlich and Susan T. Wunderlich and a son in law, Andrew W. Williams; grandchildren, William Wunderlich IV, Elaine Wunderlich Fries, Benjamin Wunderlich, Gary Wunderlich, Philip Wunderlich, Drew Williams, Mark Williams, and Theodore Williams; and thirteen great grandchildren.Chief graduated from Luxora High School (Arkansas) as salutatorian and thoroughly enjoyed sports to the fullest, traveling to Blytheville, Osceola, and Jonesboro to play baseball (his first few years played bare handed, no glove!), football (wearing a paper thin leather helmet), and basketball (at 118 pounds). While growing up in Arkansas, his love of the country life, farm land, and real estate was sparked. Driving a Ford Tin Lizzy at age 12 was a highlight.The family moved from Arkansas to Memphis in the mid 1930's. Chief graduated from Rhodes College (then Southwestern) in 1939 with a B.A. degree in Economics. While at Rhodes, he was on the basketball team and served as vice President of Sigma Nu Fraternity. He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas. Chief and Marjorie met at the Peabody Ballroom in downtown Memphis and later married July 2, 1943. During World War II, he served in the US Army for five years and spent two of those years in India before retiring with the rank of Captain.In 1946, Al started his full time working career in Memphis. For many years he headed National Trust Life Insurance Company, National Trust Fire Insurance Company, and National Burial Insurance Company in Memphis. He became president in 1955, and served as president and chairman of the board from 1966 to 1972, and as chairman of the board from 1972 until his retirement. He also served on the boards of Memphis University School, First National Tennessee Corporation for 40 years, Providian Corporation of Louisville, Kentucky and Financial Federal Bank for 20 years. The Wunderlich family formally founded the Memphis Funeral Home in 1931 with Chief at the helm for many years to follow. Education was of utmost importance to Al. He served as a representative on the Tennessee State Board of Private Schools. Additionally, Al's devotion to Rhodes was evidenced by his serving as voting Trustee from 1957 to 1963; Honorary Trustee from 1987 to 2006; and Emeriti from 2006 to present. He received the Distinguished Service Medal in1994 and was a member of the Charles Diehl Society. The lobby of Bryan Hall was named after Marjorie's and Al's parents. Involved in a host of civic organizations over the years, Al was a past president of both the Rotary Club and the United Way and The Travelers Aid Society. He was Chairman of the Industrial Department of the Chamber of Commerce. Al was a member of Future Memphis, Inc. and the Community Action Committee. His service also included serving on the the Boards of Porter Leath Home and LeBonheur Children's Hospital. Other civic activities that were standouts in Al's life were The Memphis and Shelby County Youth Guidance, Boy Scouts, and the YMCA. He was the general Chairman of the YMCA Capital Fund Drive to build the new Whitehaven YMCA. Al was named Outstanding Citizen by the Civitan Club in the mid 1960's for service to the community. He served as Chairman of Shelby United Neighbors and the newspaper ran an editorial remarking, "His modest sincerity moved his audience so deeply that they gave him an ovation such as rarely given one of its members."Aside from his numerous achievements, Chief will always be known as a wonderful provider for his family and friends. He spoke with wisdom, honesty and humor and most importantly, he served his entire family as the ultimate moral compass. His love of travel always sparked adventure and continuous curiosity; he never stopped learning, ever. A trip around the world some 50 years ago with Marjorie and his sister in law, Dixie Collins, provided stories and experiences beyond one's imagination. An avid golfer, he developed friendships that lasted decades. Horseracing was a passion and Chief's many trips to Keenland with his buddies always brought joy and sometimes losses at the ticket counter. Upon retirement, Chief and Marjorie spent the winter months in Florida where he enjoyed the Florida sunshine and his family there. Al was a member of Second Presbyterian Church and he was extremely dedicated to his Bible Class for many, many years. He served as an elder and many years as a deacon at Second. Al has been likened to a prayer warrior, one that shone with dignity, intelligence and compassion. He will be missed.The family has kindly requested that instead of floral arrangements, please direct your memorials to the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid South, 6373 Quail Hollow Suite 201, Memphis, Tennessee 38120 or Second Presbyterian Church, 4055 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38111. The family cordially invites friends to a gathering from one o'clock until funeral services begin at two o'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday the 19th of July, 2016 all at Memphis Funeral Home, 5599 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38119. A public catered reception will follow beginning at half past three until half past five in the evening in the Life Remembrance Center of Memphis Funeral Home. Chief's grandson Mark Williams will lead the day's events.The legacy of a man is based on the entirety of his life, and by any measure Al Wunderlich's legacy is huge.

Services

  • Visitation Tuesday, July 19, 2016
  • Funeral Service Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Memories

Alvin William Wunderlich, Jr.

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Bob Canada

April 13, 2017

I worked for NTL early in my career. He kept his promises and taught me to keep mine.

sam patterson jr

July 19, 2016

Al was a GREAT guy, Great Memphis Business man ...did a lot for this city and he was funny. Known the entire family most all of my adult life from teen years forward.

Allen Gagstetter

July 18, 2016

Uncle Al (Chief), was a kind man with a sharp/great sense of humor. He was upbeat and always fun to be around. Enjoyed talking sports with him, always knew what was going on with teams etc. He will be remembered with fond thoughts.
P

Lucy Gagstetter

July 18, 2016

Allen and I were deeply saddened to hear about Chief. We thoroughly enjoyed reading his lovingly written obituary. He was truly a humble, class act and his family near and far will miss him greatly. Sending our loving and heartfelt condolences to the entire Wunderlich family.

Robert Daniel

July 18, 2016

So very sorry for your loss...

David and Carol Van Hoozer

July 18, 2016

Mr. Wunderlich was a generous man who made many contributions to the Memphis community without fanfare. He was a model citizen and devoted family man. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

July 18, 2016

Had the honor and enjoyment of sitting down
with Mr. Wunderlich at Chistmas time at his son"s home (Bill) just to chat. He loved life and his family very much. Bill Anderson

Kathy Williams

July 17, 2016

Chief was an incredible man and I was blessed to have known him. Much love and prayers to his lovely family.

Wayne McCullough

July 17, 2016

God bless the family. I worked for NTL from 74 to 79, and knew of the wonderful family atmosphere this family put into that business. I know Mr Al will be missed by many, including the Memphis insurance community.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY