Franklin Levi Dungan
October 3, 1938 – October 4, 2019
Franklin Levi Dungan was born on October 3, 1938 in Hoosier, Kansas to Creola and Arthur Dungan. Named for his two grandfathers, Levi joined his older sister Mary Evelyn with younger brothers Richard and Harold following in 1942 and 1943. Sometime during the Second World War, Arthur and Creola moved their family to San Francisco where Arthur, who had recovered from polio, found work in a factory. When the war ended, the family moved once again ~ this time to Arizona to join several extended family members who had settled in and around Tucson.
Arthur and Creola bought land in the San Pedro Valley where they farmed and operated a laundromat. Shortly after they arrived, they enrolled Levi in elementary school. Levi had asked for a pair of long pants to wear on his first day of school, but his mother tucked his freshly pressed shirt into his short pants, laced up his shoes and sent him on his way. When he returned home scratched, scraped and dirty after a dust-up with the local boys, she relented and sent him to school the next day in long pants.
Although he may have gotten off to a bumpy start at school, Levi was a life-long learner. A slow and avid reader, he absorbed, considered and questioned everything he read: fiction, history, political commentary, and stacks of engine and equipment operating and repair manuals. With no formal education, he began work as a mechanic and worked his way into positions of increasing responsibility: spending over 25 years with Sundt Construction Company, including three years as corporate equipment manager. For over 40 years, he was active in the management, procurement, and disposition of commercial and industrial equipment for major companies worldwide including extensive experience in Saudi Arabia and the South Pacific. After he “retired,” he went to work as a certified heavy-equipment appraiser. While his frank and outspoken views put him at odds with management more than once, his skills, commitment to excellence, personal integrity, and wry sense of humor earned him the respect of his co-workers and colleagues.
Levi took great pride in his work, but he was passionate about his family.
In 1956, Levi was at a popular Tucson dance spot with a friend when he noticed a pretty redhead on the dance floor. When Levi asked his friend about her, his friend told him not to bother ~ she did not date cowboys. The two young men made a bet and Levi won ~ both the bet and the girl’s heart.
Levi and Barbara Sue Rennels were married March 17, 1957 in Tucson, AZ. They started out with next to nothing and over the next fifty-three years created a full and rich life together living in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the Marshall Islands while raising three girls.
Their first daughter, Deborah, was born in 1958 while Levi was still in the Air Force. Kimberly followed in 1960 and LeeAnn was born in 1964. Levi loved his girls and encouraged them to be independent, self-sufficient, and to think for themselves. Although he did point out, on more than one occasion, that the problem with raising girls to think for themselves is that when they do it you may find that you do not always agree with them.
Levi was also a devoted grandfather, great-grandfather, and favorite uncle. He could be counted on for walks in the riverbed after holiday meals, truck and tractor rides, Lego building, lunches at McDonalds, and a good story. He was a gifted storyteller and his stories gave his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews a sense of their lineage: who and where they came from and the importance of family ~ of taking care of one another.
But these were not just stories, this was how Levi lived his life. Levi showed up. He showed up to welcome new babies, and at graduations, weddings, barn raisings, family reunions, hospitals, nursing homes, and funerals. He showed up for family and he showed up for friends. Because that is just what you do – you show up and you help in whatever way you can.
When Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary, Levi was her primary caregiver and he cared for her until her death in 2010. After Barbara’s death, Levi continued to work and travel and took up a regular email correspondence with his daughters, frequently reminding them how lucky he had been.
His good luck held when he found love again while attending his grandson’s wedding where he met Beverly Hibbard. Levi and Bev were married in July 2012 and the Dungan family expanded to include new children, grandchildren, great grandchildren~ and a whole new audience for Levi’s stories.
Bev’s love brought a sparkle and joy to Levi’s life, and she was a good match for his stubborn streak. The two of them enjoyed visiting family, hiking, and dancing until Levi’s Parkinson’s disease made it increasingly difficult for him to walk. While their time together was not as long as either of them had hoped, they made the most of every moment.
Levi lived his life fully and on his own terms. He died the same way ~ fully and on his own terms: at home, in his own bed, in the company of his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law.
Levi loved well, was well-loved, and will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Levi’s name to:
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, https://www.communityfoodbank.org/Get-Involved/Give
The Michael J. Fox Foundation (Parkinson’s Research); https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate
A charity of your choice.
- Memorial Service Saturday, October 12, 2019