Profile of a Remarkable Man
Gene Arthur Bunch was born on October 12, 1925. He was one of a kind. A complex mixture of country and sophistication, feigned ignorance and fierce intelligence. Very few are given the gifts of personality and charm that were essential parts of him. When he was in a room, all eyes went to him. Charisma could be defined by Gene. He loved to talk. Lord, how he loved to talk. He was a consummate storyteller. The one of my generation to keep alive the oral histories of our family and the area.
He was a man of strength and determination who cared deeply about others and their welfare. A gentle man with a tough exterior who always had a soft spot for an underdog. Thousands of his good deeds are known only to the ones he helped. He was not boastful of his achievement nor was he falsely modest. He worked hard and was intelligent and shrewd. A good businessman, he was driven to succeed not only for his own profit but to be sure he had the resources to help his family and others in need.
A talented athlete he was a horseman, a strong swimmer, and a world-class boxer. These attributes were significant in his life. Following are some events:
While a boy, he rescued a friend from drowning in Big Sugar Creek.
He thrived as a Marine. During his service, he won the All-Service Division Championship in boxing which gave him a position on the Olympic team where he lost his final match in a split decision.
When he was stationed at El Toro base in California, a group of men was sent on a training mission of landing crafts. Despite imminent extreme weather, they were ordered to go. When the storm hit, they were seven miles from shore in heavy seas. The LSTs began to sink. Most of the men were trapped and drowned. Gene managed to escape through the small hatch and due to his superb physical condition was one of three survivors who were able to swim through the turbulent sea to safety. On that journey, he became sick from swallowing sea water and was alone, exhausted, and scared. When asked what motivated him to keep going, he said, “I didn’t have enough life insurance to provide for my mom and little sister.”
He was far from perfect, but easy to forgive. He loved to court pretty women but failed several times as a husband. I called him “My oft-married cousin.” During the last divorce hearing, he told the judge that he should not be issued another marriage license until he was seventy years old. Sadly, he passed away on February 25, 1995, the victim of asbestos exposure in one of his business enterprises.
I often think of him and wish I could ask for information or advice. I miss him.