John William Dunaway Jr. 84, Masonry contractor and World War II veteran, died of natural causes Jan. 29, at his daughter's home in Sheridan.He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 15, 1927 to John William Sr. and Mary Elsie Fryer Dunaway. In spite of his motherâ€™s dismay, he left home at age 15 to join the Navy and serve his country during World War II. He was stationed aboard the USS Trutta and fought valiantly alongside his shipmates in the South Pacific. He was always proud of his service, but like so many others in his generation, he was reluctant to talk about it. It was only in his later years that he shared those memories with his family and friends.
While in the Navy, he was stationed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he met and married Gloria Marie Bergeron. They were married for 54 years and had 10 children. After his service was over, they came back to Arkansas, where he learned the masonry trade from his father. He started his own business in 1956 and soon became one of the most respected masonry contractors in the state. His building projects are too numerous to mention, but some of the jobs he was most proud of include the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, St. Vincent Hospital, Baptist Hospital , VA Hospital, St. Josephâ€™s Hospital in Hot Springs, and North East High School in North Little Rock. He always demanded quality from all his employees and was not afraid to let them know when something was not up to his high standards. All those in his employment will remember him as a tough taskmaster because he only accepted excellence. He worked from sun up to sun down most of his life, but according to him, he never worked a day in his life because he loved what he did for a living.
Of all his accomplishments in life, he was most proud of the family he and his wife, Gloria, shared together. His first priority was his children and his whole goal in life was to afford to send them to college. He held a college education in the highest regard and wanted each of his children to have the opportunity to attend. Because of the importance he put on a college education, he established the Gloria Dunaway scholarship fund in 2002, after her death, to help pay college tuition for any of his descendants wanting to attain a degree. He was a philanthropist at heart and enjoyed nothing more than helping those in need. He was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and was involved in missionary work in Mexico and traveled there with Bishop Andrew McDonald to build churches and health clinics. He gave his financial support to many charities and individuals over the years, especially The Helping Hand in Little Rock. This Catholic organization was most dear to his wife and to it, she volunteered for over 20 years. He loved the thought that in some small way he made a difference in the lives of people in need. He was a world traveler and first class fisherman. And although he traveled and fished all over the world from Canada and Alaska to Belize and Cold War Russia, he got most pleasure out of sitting and fishing on the dock at his house on the Little Red River.
He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Elsie Dunaway, his wife, Gloria, his daughter Sheila Bathke and husband,Bill and his granddaughter, Catherine Sij and husband, Kurt.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Lou Taylor and husband, RC of Lubbock, Texas and his nine children, Myra Caton and husband, Jim of No. Little Rock, William Dunaway and wife, Lori of Searcy, Margaret White and husband, Jim of North Little Rock, John Andrew Dunaway and wife, Janet of Alexander, Mary Smylie and husband, Glenn of Poteau, OK, Charlie Dunaway and wife, Gail of Mayflower, Patricia Baldwin and husband, Phil of Sheridan, Janice Seikel and husband, Jeff of Hot Springs, Robert Dunaway and wife, Amanda of Cabot and 38 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren.
Family will receive friends on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 5-7 p.m. at North Little Rock Funeral Home. Rosary will follow at 7 p.m. Funeral will be on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 1 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Little Rock. Memorials can be made to The Helping Hand in Little Rock or Saint Judeâ€™s Childrenâ€™s Hospital.
On line guest book: www.nlrfh.com.