Dr. Earl Walcott Gunn Jr. lived life as there was no tomorrow. The prominent Atlanta dentist and diehard Bulldog fan had quite a ride and he wouldn't have had it any other way.
Earl was born on September 10, 1932 in Jacksonville, Florida, to the deceased Hallie Chandler who raised his brother Neal with the same respect and reverence in life. Earl attended Christ the King Grammar School and proceeded on to Marist. He was in the Officer's Club and went on to play in the Team Bowl in Kingsport. His Sophomore year and every year following, his team would win the Region. As President of his Junior class, Earl was on the North Georgia champion football team. When he played, he played to win. He was the Treasurer of the Key Club his junior year and earned a distinguished class medal. His Senior year he was promoted to Lt. Col. of his Battalion. Earl was co-captain of his football team his Senior year as well as an all American AA football athlete and the constitution all-star. As if he didn't have enough to excel in, he swam and ran track as a senior at Marist. He graduated as All City Half Back at Marist.
Earl was accepted at the University of Georgia and told many tales of the "College Life". His beginning major at Georgia was business administration. He was the kid after which many tests were "mysteriously" duplicated. His football efforts at Georgia had him starting at center, which later would prove that Earl was a great defensive end for Wally's bulldog varsity. Earl was co-captain of the freshmen team in the Thanksgiving Day Scottish Rite game vs. GATech. Earl lettered at Georgia in 1951 and 1952. Before his acceptance at Emory UniversityDental School he always regretted having to forgo his senior year as a "Dawg". When Vince Dooley came to Georgia in 1963 he hired Sterling Dupree as a recruiter. Sterling asked Earl to head up the recruiting in Atlanta (in those days alumni could help with the recruiting process). Earl and Sterling helped recruit an outstanding class in the winter of 1964 in Atlanta. That class would include Billy Payne, now chairman of the Augusta Golf Club and several others who formed the nucleus of two SEC champion teams in 1966 and 1968.
Upon leaving Georgia for Emory to pursue Dentistry, Earl joined the United States Air Force to serve his country and fulfill his residency. He would become one of the top Board Certified Dentists in Georgia. His professional career spans a lifetime of accolades which include: Program Chairman – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting 1990, Substitute General Chairman – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting 1987, General Chairman – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting 1986, President -Northern District Dental Society 1983-1984, President – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Society 1982-1983, Federal Service – United States Air Force 1957-1959 Honorable Discharge, Rank of Captain. American Dental Association 1957-Life Member, Thomas P. Hinman Dental Society 1960-Present – Past President, Northern District Dental Society 1959- Present – Past President, Georgia Dental Association House of Delegates 1975-1987 – Delegate, Georgia Academy of Dental Practice 1967-1987- Past President, Peachford Hospital 1979-1983- Advisory Board, Georgia Student Education Fund 1970-Present. Some of Earl's Community Organization Activities include: Capital City Club – Life Member, Atlanta Touchdown Club – Past President, G – Club, Northside Youth Organization, Emory University Alumni Society, University of Georgia Alumni Society, and Marist Alumni. His Honors and awards include: National Football – University of Georgia 2004, Foundation and College, Football Hall of Fame, Post Graduate, Achievement Award, Gold Card Recipient – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Society 2000, Highest Honor Board of Trustees – Thomas P. Hinman Dental Society 1995-2000, Chairman 1999-2000, Fellow American College of Dentist 1988, Thomas P. Hinman dental Society 1986, Medallion Distinguished Service Northern District Dental Society 1983, Award Honor Fellow Georgia Dental Association 1976.
Earl was honored in 2004 by the University of GeorgiaChapter of the UGAFootball Foundation and Hall of Fame for post graduate achievement. Also honored by the "G"Club since finishing football at Georgia. Earl Gunn was honored by the Wally's Boys Association with the John Rauch loyalty award in the spring of 2013. He was alongtime volunteer coach for the Northside Youth Organization (NYO), coaching his two sons Cody and Michael.
He is survived by his wife, and love of his last 18 years, Toni, and their menagerie of birds and dogs. His bird "Hoodie" will be missing his songs "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain" and spiritual hymns, even though they were repeated. He loved the song "I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover" so much that he called his mother-in-law for all the verses so he could sing it correctly.
Earl's children: Dr. Earl W. Gunn III (Cody), Neal Michael Gunn, Susan McKinney Gunn, Lee Ellis Gunn Armour, Amy Chandler Gunn Bortle, were also a very bright spot in his life. He would often brag on Cody's surgical success in Athens, Michael's superior coaching and tenure at Athens Academy, Susan's niche for her EMT and rescue achievementsand Amy and Lee's parenting and teaching careers.The girls often visited with the surviving grandchildren Jack and Brooks Bortle and Gracie and Will Armour. Visiting Big Doc will always hold a special and cherished memory for them. Cody's boys Carter Gunn and Chandler Gunn reside in Athens but definitely hold a mutual place in Doc's heart.
His dental staff were his weekly second family and it actually aggravated Toni that he talked about them so much on the weekends. He loved them like they were his own daughters and was always concerned about their financial well being. At Earl's office they will continue to welcome patients with the same spirit and professionalism that he would expect.
Earl knew the Lord. He really KNEW the Lord. He was private and emotional at the grace and mercy of God. His faith was the core of his being especially since joining Mt. Zion in 1996 after he and Toni married. He would get excited about new revelations he got from his Sunday School class with Ralph Lawson, and was proud of how Ralph, even with his historical and Biblical knowledge would say "Start us off today, Dr. Earl".
He prayed every morning and every night. He ended every prayer with "if it be Thy will" and "in the precious name of Jesus".
Memorial services will be held Friday, September 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church with Rev. Doug Mulkey officiating. The family will receive friends at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Veterinary School of Georgia.
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, Cumming, Georgia is in charge of arrangements.
Condolences may be made at www.ingramfuneralhome.com.
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Sept. 19, 2013