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William Kenneth Bunce

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BUNCE William Kenneth Bunce, a retired foreign service and naval officer who in 1945 wrote the directive disestablishing Shinto as the state religion of Japan, died in his sleep at Heron Point in Chestertown, Maryland, on July 23, 2008. He was 100 years old. Dr. Bunce authored the directive during the Allied occupation of Japan, when he was Chief of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division, General Headquarters, Supreme Command Allied Powers, (SCAP). The directive stripped Shinto of state support and its ultra-nationalistic and militaristic emphasis. For this, and for his services in military government in postwar Japan, he was awarded the Legion of Merit Decoration in 1946. Dr. Bunce was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, on August 31, 1907. In 1930 he graduated from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, where he met his beloved wife, Alice Shively. He taught at his alma mater, Westerville High School, until 1932. After receiving his M.A. in History from Ohio State in 1933, he became an English teacher and lecturer at the Matsuyama Kotogakko in Matsuyama, Japan, through the auspices of his father-in-law, a missionary, and the Japanese Ministry of Education. In 1939 he took his doctorate from Ohio State University and returned to Otterbein College to chair the History Department in 1940. He became the Dean of the Faculty in 1941. Dr. Bunce resigned from Otterbein in 1943 to join the United States Naval Reserve and began his study of international law, military government, and the governments, economies, and cultures of Southeast Asia, earning an M.A. in international administration at the Naval School of Military Government, Columbia University. In 1944 he was the officer in charge of the Area Studies Division at the Naval School of Military Government, Princeton University. Thereafter he was assigned to Monterey, California, and Manila, Philippines, to aid in planning the Allied occupation of Japan. During the Allied occupation, Dr. Bunce's work dealt with the demilitarization of Japanese institutions, religious and cultural affairs, archives and libraries, and the reintegration of Japan into the world community. He represented SCAP and Japan at the 3rd, 4th, and 5th General Conferences of UNESCO in Beirut, Paris, and Florence from 1948 to 1950. In 1949 he became Chair of the Tokyo Unit of the Expert Committee to advise the Director-General of UNESCO on its program for Japan. When the occupation ended, Dr. Bunce joined the staff of the American Embassy in Tokyo and the USIS, beginning a 19-year career in the diplomatic corps. He was an appointee to the National War College, Fort McNair, in 1955, and served as Counselor of Embassy for Public Affairs and Director of USIS in India and Korea. Assignments in Washington, D.C., included Assistant Director of USIA for East Asia and the Pacific, and Special Assistant for Political and Military Affairs and Cultural Affairs Advisor for USIA. He retired in 1971. Dr. Bunce spent the next 37 years at his homes in Alexandria and Fairfax Station, Virginia, and Chestertown, Maryland, devoting his considerable energy and lifelong interest in horticulture to planting and caring for thousands of azaleas, rhododendrons, ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers. He was an avid photographer and put on wonderful slide shows of his travels, plants, and flowers for family and friends. He had been very happily married to Alice Shively Bunce for 74 years when she passed away on March 31, 2007. He is survived by his daughters, Sylvia Bunce Duvall of Salisbury, Maryland, and Julia Bunce Elfving of Olathe, Kansas; his sons, Peter William Bunce of Shorewood, Illinois, and Michael Robert Bunce of Tualatin, Oregon; and seven grandsons and four great-grandchildren. Sign the online guestbook at www.dispatch.com/obituaries
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