Richard Dunkle, 80, who lived most of his life on Pine Creek, in the mountains of northcentral Pennsylvania, died suddenly on August 26, 2006, at his home in Blairsville, Georgia.
He was born May 2, 1926, in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, the son of George Warfield
Dunkle and Faith Richards Dunkle.
A World War II Navy veteran, Mack served as a cook in a Seabees
construction battalion in the Philippines. Working in the steamy
jungle, he contracted a nearly
fatal case of malaria and was medically discharged in 1946.
For 35 years, Mack was a postman in Jersey Shore. Starting as a
substitute in 1947, he soon amazed residents with his ability to
recall the name and address of anyone on his mail route -- including children,
cats, and dogs.
As a postman, Mack continued a family tradition: His father had been a
Jersey Shore rural carrier; his grandfather, Forrest B. Dunkle, the
town’s postmaster. Today, one of his grandchildren delivers mail in
Although his favorite farewell was “Don’t work too hard!”, Mack was a
prodigious laborer. On his days off, he painted houses to help support
his family of seven. After retiring in 1982, he continued painting
until age 75, when he fell off a ladder and decided to “quit while I’m
ahead.” Nevertheless, he worked until the very hour of his death: He
collapsed while running a weed whacker at his new home in Georgia,
where he had moved last spring.
Mack's final words to his wife were, “Don’t worry about me, Honey; I know
where I’m going.” Following a religious conversion in 1960, he had
been a lifelong lay evangelist. He served for years as treasurer of
the Avis Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, which he co-pastored
from 1980 to 1982. Later, he belonged to the Assembly of God in Antes
Fort. He regularly visited inmates at the Clinton County Jail and
preached to campers at Little Pine Creek Dam. He distributed free
clothing at his home, where he hung a sign saying, "Smile! God Loves
You!" On his last morning on earth, paramedics found him wearing a broad smile and extending his right hand toward the foot of the bed, as if welcoming someone standing there.
During his early church
years, Mack seemed to be tone-deaf, yet he sang louder than any other
parishioner. He defended himself by quoting Psalm 100: “‘Make a joyful noise
unto the Lord!’” To the congregation’s relief, he eventually mastered
pitch and developed a sweet bass-baritone. Among his favorite hymns
were "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder, I’ll Be There.”
Mack was an avid hunter and trapper, well known for his exploits with
rifle and bow. His religious scruples prevented him from stretching
the truth on such matters, but he enjoyed exaggerating on behalf of
his fellows. He was a consummate storyteller. He would keep a straight face through the most outlandish tale,
finally bursting into laughter that could be heard in the next block. The strength of his
voice often astonished strangers, for he was only five-feet-six and
seldom weighed more than 140. Still, his speed earned him a place as
tailback with the Jersey Shore High School Bulldogs.
In his youth, Mack assisted his father in training state-champion bird dogs.
Later, he ran his own boarding kennel. He also helped to organize a
local archery club and co-founded the Jersey
Shore Horseshoe League. There, his 1-3/4-turn pitching technique earned
him top ranking along with his doubles partner, fellow postman George
Rich in Family
Mack Dunkle never had a lot of money -- most of it went to his children,
his church, and the poor. He could never have won the lottery, because
he considered gambling a sin. (He refused to play poker, even for
toothpicks.) But he had a powerful practical streak that would have
constrained him from spending his winnings anyway. He ridiculed frills
and finery. He didn’t particularly like flowers—except for dandelions,
because you could eat the leaves. He disliked fancy food, although he
occasionally subjected his family to courses of muskrat or possum from
his traplines. (“Meat’s high,” he would say.) Once, shocked at an
estimate for professionally repainting his car, he applied a gallon of
green (his favorite color) by himself. “You can’t see the brush marks
if you stand back far enough,” he told one of his sons.
Mack always considered himself rich in family, however. He is survived
by his wife of 59 years,
Donna June Reitzel Dunkle; a sister,
Lou (Clair) Robinson, of Pine Creek; two brothers,
Walter L. Dunkle of
Pine Creek and
Donald E. Dunkle of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; two sons,
Steve L. Dunkle of Blairsville, Georgia, and
Terry W. Dunkle of Danbury,
Connecticut; and two daughters,
Cheryl R. (Eldon) Arndt of Young Harris,
Denise A. (Jerry) Booth of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A third daughter, Senie M. (Calvin) Eyer, died in 1985. Other survivors include 11
grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A graveside service with military honors was conducted at the
Tombs Run Cemetery, overlooking Pine Creek, on Friday,
September 1. As a memorial, the family suggests contributions
to the Tract League (www.tractleague.com),
publishers of the sermonettes that Mack often drew from his shirt pocket
to give to complete strangers.
Know Someone Who'd Like a Copy?
you have a friend who doesn't have a computer, we'll be happy to mail
a printed version of this obituary anywhere in the world.
Want to See the Dunkle Photo
You'll find pictures (old and new) of Mack and
other Dunkles and their friends -- including photos from the family
gathering before and after Mack's funeral --
Tell Mack's Story!
Click here to email memories, anecdotes, quotes, and comments,
so I can post them for all to read.
Sign the Guest Book
tell us you were here. So far, we've heard from the following --
many of whom have posted comments below:
Dee (Cummings) Allen
Jim and Alice Stroud
Arlene (Carl) Cogan
Sharon (Wagner) Linn
David A. Snyder
Cheryl (Wright) Lavely
Barbara (Wright) Sanders
Richard and Sandra Myers
Jim Stroud Jr.
Caroline (Dunkle) Lusk
Emma (Kemmerer) Shirk
Check Back Often...
...to see more about this remarkable man and
his inspiring life. Besides your own material, I will add pictures,
quotable "Mackisms," and lots more.
Love to all,
(Mack's son, on behalf of my mother, Donna
June, and siblings Steve, Cheryl, and Denise)
P.S. Donna (AKA June) will be checking this page
regularly to see what her husband's friends have added. For those who
also want to send condolence letters, her mailing
address is Donna J. Dunkle, 2815 Emerine Rd., Blairsville, GA 30512.
Responses So Far
(Click here to add yours!)
Song Leader With a Smile
I remember Mr. Dunkle from my childhood. He
attended the Christian Missionary Alliance church in Avis. He was the
song leader, and he always sang "Thank You, Lord, for Saving My Soul." I
am 38 years old and I still remember he always had a smile on his
face. His wife was just as pleasant. I will remember your family in my
(Cummings) Allen, Harrisburg, Pa.
"How Was Work?"
I was blessed as a child growing up to have Mack as my grandfather.
When I was young my grandparents would come to visit us often, as we
lived less than 20 minutes away. Before he would leave, Pap would pull
a quarter from his pocket and say, “Don’t spend that all in one
Another thing that I remember vividly from my youth was Pap teaching
me to shoot. My parents had gone away somewhere for a couple of days,
so my sister, Caroline, and I were staying at Gram and Pap’s. Pap
decided we were too bored, so he grabbed his old Nylon 66 .22 rifle, a
cardboard box, and one of the purple chairs from their kitchen, and
went out into the driveway. After a few minutes setting everything up
and showing me how the rifle worked, he let me squeeze off a round or
two. Seeing that I was smiling and enjoying the sharp crack of the old
.22, he went back into the house and returned with a few boxes of
ammunition. My sister, Pap, and I spent quite a while that afternoon
taking potshots at that box.
I’ve traveled around and have been in and out of trouble most of my
adult life, only recently putting my past behind me and settling down
to become a responsible member of the community I live in. But over
the years, when I sought some stability and clear-headed, practical
advice, it was Pap I would go see. Not only would I get some good
advice (and usually not what I wanted to hear) but also Pap would
catch me up on local news that you couldn’t read in the paper. I’d
also get a well told story or two, a snack, and a prayer before I
I was blessed once again in the last couple months to be around my Pap
every day. He would see me off to work in the morning and greet me
when I returned with, “How was work?” His passing has caught me
totally off guard and I will miss him, but the values and faith that
he helped to instill in me over the years will never leave me.
Michael S. Dunkle, Blairsville, Ga.
A Special Christmas
Uncle Mack was one of the friendliest fellows I've ever met. As a shy
kid, I recall he would never pass up the opportunity to speak to me,
joke with me, put his hand on my shoulder, tell me a story, and just
make me feel important. His Christian testimony was real. Also, I
remember he would, for years after Daddy died, give a sum of money to
Mom in a Christmas card. Mom felt that was so generous.
Bob Willits, Bennettsburg, N.Y.
"Good Morning, Mack!"
Mack was our mailman -- for many years -- when we lived on Spruce
Street in Jersey Shore. We (Mom, Dad and four daughters) all thought
that Mack was just wonderful, and it was always a treat to see him
coming up the sidewalk. My sisters and I (all probably under 11 or 12
at the time) thought it would be funny to leave a message for Mack to
see every day, so we made a little sign that said, “Good Morning,
Mack” and taped it to the mailbox.
That sign stayed there for years -- long after my sisters
and I grew up and moved out, and even after Mack retired. In fact, it
was probably still there when my parents moved over to Avis a couple
of years ago.
Mack was a good guy. He was also a town legend -- I am sure that
people have many wonderful and funny memories of him. I am also sure
he is up there in the clouds right now, laughing and smiling down on
Penny Parks, Boiling Springs, Pa.
Sympathies and Greetings
I am the daughter of the Rev. Alfred Carl, who pastored the Avis Christian
and Missionary Alliance Church that Mack and Donna and their five
children attended in the late 1950s. Years later, I saw Mack and Donna
from time to time at the Mahaffey church camp, which I have attended
since our move to western Pennsylvania in 1988.
My mother died in November 2003, and my dad is now staying with me
and my husband, John. We live at 231 Painter Avenue, Greensburg PA
15601. John is chaplain to a Presbyterian retirement home. I am
secretary at the Greensburg Alliance Church and pianist for another
Alliance church in the area. We have five children and several
Please send my sympathies and greetings to your family.
Arlene (Carl) Cogan, Greensburg, Pa.
Please accept our deepest condolences on your father's passing into
My heart feels your loss. Your mom and dad were the ones who led me
to Christ when I was a wee lad living up Pine Creek. I was so thrilled
eight or nine years ago when we were camping at Little Pine State Park
and found that your mom and dad were leading the worship service
there. I hadn't seen or talked to them in probably 35 years.
We will pray for God's hand of comfort and strength for you and the
rest of the family during this time.
Jim Stroud Jr.
Love and Prayers
Your website is a very very nice tribute to your father. I didn't
really know him, but I do know other members of his family. My love
and prayers are with you all today.
Charlene Sawyer, Waterville, Pa.
God Be With You All
I remember Mack and June from the Christian and Missionary
Alliance Church. Mack had a pleasant word to say to every person who
attended, and if you had any kind of problem he was there to help. He
was my postman for several years. I don't recall ever seeing him
without a smile on his face.
June was my Sunday school teacher in my horrible teenage years. Please
tell her that I finally grew up to be a person she would be pleased to
God be with you all in this difficult
Cheryl (Wright) Lavely, Jersey Shore, Pa.
Full of Life
I attended church with Mack, June, and the kids at the Christian
Missionary Alliance Church in Avis when I was young. In the years that
followed the closing of that church, Mack would always stop to chat
whenever and wherever he saw you. He was always so full of life and
filled with the Holy Spirit, he was a joy to be around. He will be
sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Barbara (Wright) Sanders, South Avis, Pa.
A Joy to Know
What a lovely obituary -- obviously written with love. Mack must
have been a joy to know. My deepest sympathy.
Linda Bates, Newtown, Conn.
His Kind of Faith
My husband, Dick Myers, was born and raised in Waterville, Pa., so he
knew all the Dunkles. When we moved to Jersey Shore, Mack was our
postman. He always had a smile on his face. I also knew he collected
clothing and sent it where needed. We should all live with his kind of
Sandra Myers, Jersey Shore, Pa.
Uncle Mack was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. It was
always a pleasure to see Uncle Mack; he was unintimidating and
approachable. He had a way about him that made you feel welcome to
just be in his presence. He had a gentle nature that made it easy to
be around him. He honestly cared for people and made me feel important
and took a genuine interest in me, as he did with everyone. Mack
Dunkle was a blessing to this world and everyone he came in contact
with. He will be dearly missed.
Craig Willits, Mill Hall, Pa.
More will be posted...
...as they are received.