Robert Lyle Gunn, also known as, “Mr. Maaavelous,” Mr. Gunn, Bob, Bobby, Dad, Da & Grandpa/FarFar by those who knew & loved him dearly was born on April 8th, 1940 & left this life on June 30th, 2022.
Bob is probably best known for his wonderful sense of humor, entertaining jokes & storytelling, clever wit, lightening-like puns, genuine & melodious laughter, easy going nature, excellent card game skills, vast mathematical abilities, an impressive variety of musical talents & his beautiful singing voice.
He was a pleasure & joy to be around.
He will be missed tremendously by many; we all are so fortunate to have met & been inspired by this true Irish Bard – with a twinkle in his eye…
He is loved & survived by his wife of 57 years, Sharron Lee (Ludvigsen) Gunn, of Hendersonville, NC, son – Ryan Robert Gunn & grandson – Maximillian (Max) Mjölnir Gunn of Sweden, daughter – Heather Kathleen Gunn (Keith) of the Mountains of WNC, sister – Karen Lee (Gunn) Peterson of Colorado & brother – Patrick Arthur Gunn (Trudy) of Wisconsin – along with several brothers & sisters-in-law from around the country & a multitude of nieces & nephews & cousins & an array of close friends, neighbors & colleagues – too many to mention here.
Bob’s early formative years were in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where he lived with his dad, Lt. Col. Robert Lyle Gunn Sr. & his mom, Lenore Kathryn (Olson) Gunn, sister Karen Lee & brother Pat – surrounded & supported by many family members & friends.
Growing up, Bob liked & collected books & music of varied genres & was especially drawn to humor, entertainment, radio shows, math, nature, bridge & cribbage (; he would become the one to try to beat.) He enjoyed fun times with family & friends that included all of the above.
Coming from a family of educators, he was always a good student & started a life-long interest in learning, education & intellectual pursuits. He would become a Man of the Mind.
Bob attended Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where he often challenged his teachers (in fun, of course, but he usually had the correct answer.) There, he hung out with a core gang of the “coolest kids” (nerds) who became life-long friends – a testament to his truly likable character & equanimity. He graduated in 1958 & was glad to be able to celebrate his 60th reunion together with “The Gang.” Another Eagle Soars…
Bob attended the University of Eau Claire (where his dad also taught Mathematics & Engineering Drawing, among other subjects, for many years & was a philosophical/thoughtful listener/counselor to many students – as his son Bob would become as well.) Bob graduated in 1962 with a B.S. in Mathematics & a minor in Physics & was a member of Eta Phi, a local academic/service-oriented fraternity of which his father had also been a member.
He went on to do graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin In Madison which prepared him for his lifelong teaching career, at which he excelled, and continued to tutor family & friends and students – even after retirement. (His sister, Karen, gratefully recalls how he helped her learn Calculus!
During his graduate work, he met the love of his life, the beautiful Sharron Lee Ludvigsen, when they both were members of the Lutheran Student Association Choir (where Sharron’s parents had also happened to meet each other years before…) & where Bob first began to make Sharron laugh – for the rest of his life…
Sharron’s sister, Jean, remembers Sharron bringing Bob home to meet the family. He was joking with and being climbed & sat upon repeatedly by their rough-housing younger brothers, Fred & Phil, who thought he was great fun. Brother Carl Jr. approved as well – an excellent candidate for a brother-in-law.
In June of 1965, Bob & Sharron married at Zion Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. They shared their newlywed home together in Monona, Wisconsin where Bob had his first teaching position at Monona Grove High School (for 6 years). There, he participated in Jaycee, chess, forensics & debate.
During that time, Bob & Sharron gave birth to their son, Ryan, in 1969.
Their daughter, Heather, was born in 1972 at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois where Bob taught Mathematics for 3 years.
While there, Bob met & befriended Paul & Mary Anne Milak & established a meaningful & lifelong friendship with them. Together they all enjoyed many late-night sessions of folk song singing & duet guitar playing with lots of harmony, gusto & philosophical discussions about objectivism & beyond. Years later they would continue to visit each other – often during “St. Patrick’s Month,” & together, Paul & Bob would enjoy the exhilarating experience of tempting the waves of the powerful rocky coast of Maine.
Bob taught at Duluth Cathedral High School in Minnesota for 2 years before accepting a position in 1975 in Maine as a Mathematics Teacher & Dorm Master at Hebron Academy – a traditional, independent/private, college preparatory boarding/day school – founded in 1804 – with an idyllic campus setting within the quaint town of Hebron. Bob devoted the next 30 years of his career & life at Hebron Academy – raising his family within a community of educational excellence that emphasizes the development & edification of the “mind, body & spirit” – still to this day.
Bob thoroughly enjoyed being a teacher & mentor. He was known for making his classroom entertaining & engaging as he taught Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Statistics, Computer Programming, Trigonometry, Analysis & Calculus – over the years. He especially prized the challenge of working with students in Advanced Placement Calculus – several of whom went on to achieve greatness with their Mathematics skills. A diversity of students, of all levels, with whom he connected – often tutoring them late into the night – wrote thank-you-notes of appreciation for him & all that he taught them. The sentiment of these letters meant a great deal to him.
While at Hebron Academy, Bob participated in innumerable activities, but here are a few:
Bob got a kick out of lifting his voice in song with the a capella group, The Hebeejeebees & the Chorus for many years – which he also Directed for a while. Earlier in his career, he coached the Debate & Math Team & he even played Cello in the Orchestra, later on. He was the Drama Director in the Winter & he produced & also acted in a plethora of plays (too many to list here) – including many Shakespeare plays, “Fiddler on the Roof” & “The Princess Bride” etc… “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” was one of the favorites.
He is famous for popping over 50 pounds of popcorn per week (!) while he was Dorm Dad (for 16 years) to some 40 girls every year who took refuge & comfort in the Gunn’s kitchen.
After 30 years of dedicated service (& some sacrifice) to Hebron Academy, Bob & Sharron retired in 2005 to Hendersonville, North Carolina to be near their daughter where they enjoyed exploring the many waterfalls & awe-inspiring Mountain views of beautiful Western North Carolina.
Even in retirement, Bob kept up an incredibly busy schedule with Cribbage & Bridge Club & singing with the Fletcher Community Choir where he made friends easily & reveled in the repartee & was thankful for the many rides he was kindly offered by especially good friends to bring him to the fun & back home again. He volunteered for several community groups & organizations over the years & even participated in a 2nd production of the “Music Man” – as a member of the Barbershop Quartet in the play – at the Hendersonville Little Theater. He also liked to attend some of the myriad of music concerts offered in the area.
Bob & Sharron took pleasure in various adventures & travels abroad too. One special & memorable trip was to Sweden to visit their son Ryan & his family – where they toured several castles & cathedrals & ate very good food. Grandson Max was lucky to have the quite rare opportunity to be able to come visit, joke with & bond with his Grandpa here in NC when he was 10 – old enough to remember & cherish the memory of knowing his fun FarFar (Swedish for “Father’s Father”).
But mostly Bob & Sharron liked to stay at home. Together they enjoyed many documentaries, political & other discerning TV shows, discussions, gatherings & meals with neighbors & visits with family & friends.
Bob was a night-owl & loved to watch late-night, stand-up comedy & action movies where the Good Guy underdog wins or the Superhero saves the day. He kept up a nightly habit of reading something before sleep from his collection of spy/thriller books or something else thought-provoking. He kept his mind sharp with daily Suduku & loved to play with puzzles & brain twisters & mathematical equations.
And of course, there was always music:
Through all of these years, Bob was continuously involved with Music. He always kept singing & played an astounding variety of instruments. His music library was vast & diverse – including work from almost all genres. He was an excellent pianist & guitarist himself – especially classical, & he loved to play duets of all kinds with family & friends. When he was younger, he played trumpet, violin, harmonica, recorder, huma-tunes, wax paper on combs & the nose whistle (!). He even learned to play the cello later in life. When he retired to live in a lovely house in a bird sanctuary in Hendersonville, he rejoiced in identifying the bird calls & having musical “conversations” with them.
One of Bob’s favorite things to do was to sing & play guitar with his adoring & doting daughter, Heather – laughing & trying to “save the world” & talking about everything under the sun – late into the night…(often until dawn…just when the birds began to sing…) delighting them with endless joy…
Bob was a firm believer that song, laughter, love & joy helped him to live longer than he expected…
Harmony was an overarching theme in Bob’s Life:
For most of his adult life, Bob was very involved with Barbershop Harmony singing with SPEBSQSA – the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of BarberShop Quartet Singing in America. He was one of the Society’s longest standing members (42 years!) & he very much enjoyed engaging in the comradery. Bob directed The Hillsmen Chorus in Norway/South Paris, Maine for 19 years & was a member of The County Chords & The Hebron Experience Barbershop Quartet; all were long-standing pillars of entertainment for the community.
He attended Harmony University & Directors’ College annually for many years & even attained a BBH – Bachelors of Barbershop Harmony degree – while he also participated in several state & national competitions. After retirement in North Carolina, Bob joined the Palmetto Statesmen – just over the border in South Carolina & he later joined the Land-O-Sky Chorus in Asheville – for which he served as Librarian as well.
He also enjoyed making many learning CDs of all four parts for members of the various choruses & quartets with which he had sung. In retirement, he was also a member of several Quartets such as “Not 4 Sale” & “What Are We Here 4” – often singing Baritone or Lead – which he enjoyed immensely. Bob also spent countless happy hours recording himself singing all four parts & mixing them with a music software program to create his own 1-man Quartet he called “The 4 Gunn Conclusion.”
Bob always liked being the center of attention & would be the 1st one to say so. (Just ask his younger brother, Pat : ) He was extremely funny – a pun-master – who delighted people with his quick & clever play on words. Bob is also famous for writing a very entertaining & witty Christmas letter every year – full of good cheer (which will be missed greatly) – always including how much he appreciated his family & friends & his wife, Sharron.
He was Mr. Optimism and would reply “Maaavelous” when asked how he was – even up to his last days, when his wife Sharron knew better. She dutifully took care of him with her artistic home-making, creative cooking & nursing skills – through to the end of his life when his health & heart were failing.
Harmony was such an important theme throughout Bob’s life – especially as he got older. As a younger man, he often challenged people with intellectual debate & with perhaps some arguably necessary & occasional discord…but later in life, he did his best to emphasize Harmony.
Ultimately, Bob was all about enjoying Life & having fun – which made him such a pleasure to be around.
He will be missed profoundly & unfathomably – beyond words – but we will keep looking for & learning from his unique messages of wisdom in song, music, math, philosophy, humor, laughter & all that he enjoyed & loved.
In Honor of Robert L. Gunn, a “Celebration of Life” was held on August 2nd, 2022 in the Fellowship Hall of Grace Lutheran Church in Hendersonville, NC.
All Family & Friends were invited to come share stories, song, music, card games, photos, tears & laughter etc…
The family would like to thank all of those who could join us that day to reminisce & Celebrate Bob’s Wonderful & Multifaceted Life.
Special thanks to the Land-O-Sky Barbershop Chorus & Director & the remaining members of the “What Are We Here 4” Quartet for sharing their beautiful, nostalgic songs of harmony with us & for all of those who generously shared tasty treats & for everyone’s heart-felt sympathy, stories & dear friendship.
And we thank Grace Lutheran Church for graciously hosting us all (as well as the Cribbage Club – for many years) & for your most kind, able & expert assistance – along with that of the kind caretakers at Shuler Funeral Home & all of your lovely & sensitive support.
Many dear souls wore something colorful in honor of Bob, aka Mr. Gunn, Dad, Da & Grandpa/FarFar – who was & always will be such a colorful character himself and who brought and continues to bring – through “Maaavelous” memories – so much Joy into all of our lives.
Thank You All. Keep Celebrating & Living Life in a Meaningful Way – to the Fullest.