Dr. John Bunnell

Obituary of Dr. John Howard Bunnell

John Howard Bunnell (February 28, 1927 - October 15, 2021) John H. Bunnell, known as “The Music Man” of Madison, New Jersey, died peacefully at home on October 15, 2021.He was 94. “Mr. B,” as the beloved music mentor was known by his students and colleagues, was Supervisor of Music for the Madison Public Schools until his retirement in 1990. He influenced the lives of thousands who continue to play and love the music he shared with them during his 40 years of teaching, conducting concerts, and putting on musicals at the high school. In 2016, the Madison High School auditorium was renamed the “John H. Bunnell Auditorium” in his honor. His life in music took him well beyond the classroom and the stage, however. He taught private lessons in voice and many instruments well into his 90s. He was also choir director at The First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, N.J., for 43 years, and director of three popular musical organizations -- the Union County Band (28 years), the Orpheus Glee Club (30 years), and the Madison Community Band (31 years). A native of New Providence, N.J., Mr. Bunnell lived most of his childhood in Summit, N.J., and graduated from Summit High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at New York University, a master’s degree in music education at Rutgers University, and pursued doctoral studies at Indiana University. After his retirement, he completed his doctorate at the Institute for Worship Studies – at the age of 79. A World War II veteran, he served in the Merchant Marines in 1945, and in the First U.S. Army Band, from 1946-48. The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison honored Mr. Bunnell as ”Craftsman of the Year” in 2005. Mr. Bunnell leaves behind his wife of almost 71 years, Virginia; his children: Jane Bunnell (Marc Embree), David Bunnell (Jeri) and Margaret Slawinski (Steve); grandchildren: Katie Greene (Mahlon), Melissa Bunnell (Jon Humberd), Jonathan Bunnell (Kerrin), Emily and Adam Slawinski; and four great -grandchildren: Lillia, Atticus and Thea Greene and Landon Bunnell. A force of nature who loved his family, all things musical, his students and the New York Yankees – his music lives on in all of us. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, N.J., or the Dr. John Bunnell Scholarship of Music Fund at the Community Fund of New Jersey (www.cfnj.org/bunnell). A memorial celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
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