Dr. John Dunn loved his family, teaching

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | 6:37 p.m. CST; updated 8:01 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 24, 2012

COLUMBIA — Dr. John Harvey McHenry Dunn, who was affectionately called "Pop Pop" by his grandchildren, saw his children as his greatest contribution to the world.

"He adored, and was so proud of, his children," said Marilee Dunn, Dr. Dunn's wife. "They are both successful and have wonderful children of their own."

Dr. Dunn, 75, of Columbia, died Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, after a battle with lung cancer. He died at home surrounded by his immediate family.

"He was quiet but very strong, and you saw that in how he approached having cancer," said Mrs. Dunn. "He saw it as part of the circle of life, and seeing how gracious he was about it made it easy for the rest of us. He never complained, ever."

Dr. Dunn was born March 9, 1937, to Robert and Grace McHenry Dunn in Upper Darby, Penn. 

He graduated from Lansdowne Aldan High School in 1955 and was president of his senior class. He went on to study at Pennsylvania State University where he participated in Sigma Nu and the Delphi honor society. After graduating in 1959, he served in the Army in Fort Lee, Va.

He married Marilee "Cricket" Grabill on Aug. 26, 1961, in Altoona, Pa. 

Dr. Dunn received his doctorate from Rutgers University in Turfgrass Science in 1968, and joined the MU faculty later that year. At MU, Dr. Dunn started the Turfgrass research program at the College of Agriculture. He was the author of a textbook and many articles, and he served as the department's director of graduate studies. He retired in 2006 but continued to teach until 2009.

"He was a wonderful man to work with, just a very nice man," said Rita Gerke, secretary for the MU Division of Plant Sciences.

Dr. Dunn was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church and the Columbia Track Club. He coached City League soccer and was coordinator of the Columbia Girls' Soccer League. 

"When we first started the all-girls team with our daughter, we didn't have a name for them, but their shirts were a dark purple-blue," said Marilee Dunn. "He started to call them the Blueberries and the name stuck."

Dr. Dunn also had a famous doppelganger.

"Everywhere we went, people said he looked like George Bush, but we didn't see it," Marilee Dunn said. "Then one day our grandaughter saw George Bush on the cover of the Washington Post and said, 'Look there's a picture of Pop Pop.'"

Dr. Dunn enjoyed classical music and was a voracious reader.

"He was smart, but he never flaunted his knowledge," Marilee Dunn said. "He was very modest."

Dr. Dunn is survived by his wife, Marilee Dunn; son, John Malinin Dunn, and his wife, Catherine; daughter, Amy Dunn Moore, and her husband, John; grandchildren Natalia Malinin Dunn, Raisa Malinin Dunn, Wilson McHenry Moore, Brooks Turner Moore and Anna Jane Moore; a brother, Robert Peale Dunn; a niece, great-nephews, and a great-niece.

His parents and his sister-in-law, Sonya DePaula, died earlier.

A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Calvary Episcopal Church, 123 S. Ninth St. Visitation and a reception will follow in the Parish Hall. 

Contributions can be made to the Dr. Vincent Gurucharri Foundation at 3220 Bluff Creek Drive, Columbia, MO 65201 or the Missouri Valley Turf Grass Association.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

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