Friday, May 05, 2006

Jack Dunn remembered


Jack Dunn rememberedThe Woodstock Sentinel-Review
By Bruce Urquhart - POLITICS REPORTERFriday May 05, 2006
Jack Dunn will be remembered as a man of uncommon compassion.It was this rare quality that helped inspire Dunn’s devotion to his community, encouraging a union involvement and a political career that spanned decades. It was this same compassion that compelled Dunn’s involvement in countless boards, charities, committees and societies.And it is this same compassion that will ensure Dunn’s enduring legacy.After a lengthy illness, John Joseph Dunn, known to his many friends as "Jack," died peacefully Thursday at Woodstock General Hospital. He is survived by his beloved wife Joyce, his three children, Joanne, Paul and Heather, and his four grandchildren, Kayla, Jessica, Kelsey and Sara."He was a wonderful man," said Bob White, a former president of both the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Auto Workers union. "Our friendship goes back a long time."Dunn’s community involvement started soon after the Halifax native arrived in Woodstock in 1950. After working at a number of local plants, including Harvey Woods, Ralston Purina, Massey Ferguson and Wood Mosaic, Dunn became deeply involved in the local union during his many years with Gardner Denver. Following a six-year stint as Local 636’s recording secretary, Dunn was elected in February 1978 as the group’s financial secretary, a position he held for more than two decades."He certainly touched a lot of hearts in our union," Local 636 president Ross Gerrie said. "There wasn’t too many guys in our union who didn’t know Jack."During his years with the local, Dunn became known for his tireless work on behalf of workman’s compensation and unemployment insurance claimants. During an interview with Geoff Dale, the author of Reflections of Past and Present, a history of Local 636, Dunn said he considered the union as a "vehicle" to help his fellow workers."The hall runs pretty smoothly and groups are never turned away from our doors," he said.Dunn was also an avid sportsman during his time with the local, volunteering as the convener for a number of union tournaments. Even after his retirement, Dunn remained a member of the local’s recreation committee, helping his successors with their tournaments and events. Dunn’s penchant for sporting programs also inspired his long involvement as president of Perth Oxford Elgin Middlesex, the Canadian Auto Worker’s first recreational council. "He ran every tournament," Gerrie said. "Lob-ball, hockey, horseshoes, cribbage, you name it, he was the convener of the tournament. There’s not too many people like Jack." Dunn’s union involvement was paralleled by a profound commitment to his adopted city. While serving as the president of the district labour council, Dunn decided to run for city council in 1988, starting a political career that would last the rest of his life. In his six terms on council, Dunn earned a well-deserved reputation as a dedicated and hard-working representative."In his own quiet way, Jack Dunn was a very effective advocate for people with problems," said former councillor Charlie Tatham, who served with Dunn during the 1990s. "He was a good friend and a fine councillor. If you had a problem, Jack dug in. He just didn’t give up."Mayor Michael Harding echoed Tatham’s praise, saying Dunn’s compassion and experience would be sorely missed at the council table. Harding described his deputy mayor as someone who was "there" for Woodstock’s citizens. With Dunn’s involvement with the United Way, the Woodstock library board, the Woodstock Non-Profit Housing Corporation and various other municipal and union committees, this dedication to the community was clearly evident."He was the kind of politician that, if you had a problem, he would come by," Harding said. "He was held in very high regard in this community."As part of his quiet advocacy, Dunn was a frequent visitor at Operation Sharing, dropping by the Meeting Place to talk with its clients and volunteers. Stephen Giuliano, the chaplain of Operation Sharing, said Dunn was, "a compassionate and sensitive man," and would be sadly missed by the organization. "We at Operation Sharing felt the warmth and support that Jack brought during his years on council," Giuliano said. Dunn brought that same warmth and support to his involvement with a number of local service clubs, including the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 55, the Oxford County Naval Veterans’ Association, the Moose Lodge and the Knights of Columbus. "He was a really decent man," White said. "He had a great sense of humour and a great commitment to getting people engaged."Thursday’s city meeting was marked by remembrances from his council colleagues, who celebrated a life that, for most of Dunn’s 75 years, was dedicated to others. Each councillor, remarking on their colleague’s remarkable life, offered their own condolences to the Dunn family. These remembrances concluded with a minute of silence, allowing those in the chamber to privately commemorate the veteran councillor."We will miss you Jack," Coun. Connie Lauder said.Friends and family are invited to visitations at R.D. Longworth Funeral Home on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A Mass of the Resurrection will be held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Community Church on Monday at 11 a.m