Barbara Dee Gunnels, 88, died peacefully in her home on May 14, 2021. Barbara was born in Cedar City, Utah on June 4, 1932 to Dorothy Dix Green and DeVon Pryor Green. The eldest of three daughters, Barbara was a natural leader and a loving sister who later became a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Barbara graduated from Cedar City High School in 1950 having excelled academically and was involved in activities including dancing, cheerleading and yearbook. Barbara adored her classmates and kept in touch with them until the very end of her life. In her final weeks, Barbara continued to call them to catch up and encourage them to continue to plan for their 71st high school reunion this September. The Cedar City High School Class of 1950 has been gathering for high school reunions on a yearly basis for approximately the last five years. Barbara was an integral part of planning these reunions, tending to be an overachiever. This caused a certain classmate and dear friend to dub her The General in her later years. Barbara got things done.
It was during high school that Barbara met her first husband, Sheldon Hunter. The two were married in 1950 in Cedar City shortly before Sheldon was deployed to Korea where he served honorably in the Korean war. Upon his return, the couple lived in Cedar City near their extended families where their first two children were born, Denise and Lloyd. The family relocated to Farmington, NM when Sheldon became employed by the Navajo Mine in 1960. In Farmington, Barbara and Sheldon added their third child to the family, Russell. Sheldon and Barbara were divorced in 1970 but remained friends until his death in 2015.
Barbara began working at First National Bank in the late 1960s, starting out as a teller and eventually becoming the branch manager in Bloomfield, NM. She worked at First National Bank off and on for twenty years.
Barbara married J.O. Gunnels in 1973 in Farmington and the couple enjoyed 29 years of love and adventure together. J.O. had served as an Army Air Corp pilot during WWII and later became the Farmington Airport Manager. He owned a plane and enjoyed flying as a private pilot during his retirement years. Always up for a challenge, Barbara became interested in learning how to fly after meeting J.O. and earned her own private pilot certification in 1974.
One of Barbara's exceptional talents was sewing and quilting. She created everything from clothing for dolls to prom dresses for her children and grandchildren. She won numerous blue-ribbon awards at the San Juan County and New Mexico State Fairs for her quilting, most of it done entirely by hand.
Barbara spent many years serving her community as a volunteer with the Farmington ARC, and Project Read. She was a longtime member of the Sorority Beta Sigma Phi and a member of the San Juan County Quilt Guild. Barbara was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Reading was one of her great passions which she shared with others through her volunteer work with Project Read, as well as with her grandchildren who fondly recall endless hours listening to Grandma Barbara read them poetry and fairy tales.
She is survived by her sister, Elayne Fife, and five children including her daughter Denise Hunter; her son, Russell Hunter and wife Debbie; her stepdaughter Sherryl Perry; her stepson Steve Gunnels and wife Gail; her stepson John Gunnels; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, J.O. Gunnels; her sister, Shirley Middleton; her son, Lloyd Hunter; her stepson, Joel Orin Gunnels III; her stepson, Stan Gunnels; her stepdaughter, Linda Wade; and her grandson, Jody DeVon Hunter.
In the weeks leading up to her death, her family, friends and caretakers played (and mostly lost) many a round of gin rummy with her over a glass of wine. We also learned a voluminous number of new vocabulary words reading crossword puzzle clues out loud for her to solve. She did not appreciate when we tried to cheat and she caught us every time. To say she was spirited is an understatement. Barbara loved life and her joy was contagious. Her home was the warm, friendly gathering place for family and friends all her life. She welcomed strangers and ex-husbands to Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed Christmastime more than even some of her grandchildren! She told her daughter very shortly before her death that she wasn't quite ready to go yet because she might miss out on something. We are the ones missing out now.
Barbara's family would like to thank the entire team at Basin Home Health and Hospice for their caring and professional work, as well as her excellent and loving caregivers, Kellie and Katlyn. We are forever grateful to all of you.
A memorial graveside service will be held at Greenlawn Cemetery Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Connelly Hospitality House in Farmington.
Barbara's care has been entrusted to Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home, 103 E. Ute Street in Farmington, New Mexico (505) 325-8688. You may share condolences with the family on our website: www.serenityandcompany.com.