Township supervisor overcame obstacles
BY PAT FARNELLI
You could say that Edwin Samuel Bunnell was facing down adversity since the moment he was born.
Bunnell, who died early Friday, was born with polio, and chose to walk and dance rather than be disabled.
Bunnell’s mother, Emma, had a slight case of polio while she was pregnant, but was unaware of the disease until her son was diagnosed at birth.
Her husband, a dairy farmer and truck driver, didn’t cater to his son, and the little boy grew up carrying milk cans and buckets even with his legs in braces. He believed the hard work and exercise strengthened him.
While a toddler, Bunnell earned his nickname, Bud, by falling out an upstairs window and being caught by his Uncle Steve, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Relieved, Uncle Steve called him “Bud,” and the name stuck for the rest of his life. Some of the effects of polio never really went away: he held his left hand high, with a drooped wrist, and he didn’t put weight on his left foot while standing.
However, he loved to dance, and still danced even very recently with his wife Lucille. “His favorite song was, “Old Time Rock and Roll,” and he would go to weddings and hope they’d play that song,” his daughter Robin Rosin said.
Eleven years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he survived. He was a patient of Dr. Khalil in the Endless Mountains Health Services, and was very grateful for the care he received from that doctor.
The cancer was particularly bad for four years, and he almost gave up, but he persevered because he wanted to walk Robin down the aisle for her wedding, and hoped to have grandchildren.
His sister, Evangeline, always drove him to his treatments.
“He was always looking forward to something,” Rosin said. “Just recently, he was looking forward to retirement.”
Bunnell, who turned 70 on July 10, just had a bout with pneumonia, and was released from the hospital about two weeks ago. He planned to turn in his retirement letter at the last Dimock township meeting.
He had returned to his home, and was doing better, but then he called for an ambulance and went back to the hospital.
His daughter says that moments before he died, he was proudly introducing her to the hospital staff as his baby, and saying that his baby’s baby was out there too. His five month old grand-daughter, Miah, was his pride and joy.
“They told me they wanted to do an EKG, and I had just walked around the corner, when I heard someone say his name loudly, and he had passed away- it was literally seconds later,” she said.
Bunnell became a Dimock Township supervisor in June 1979, and worked side by side with the late George Baker for 32 years.
“He and George were good at roads, and back then that was the main thing you were expected to do if you were supervisor,” said supervisor Paul Jennings.
“They always worked well together. They were a mainstay here in the township.”
Bunnell also worked as a dairy farmer, milk truck driver, and truck driver for Agawam Farms. The family farm is on Meshoppen Creek Road between the Dimock to Brooklyn Road and Montrose.
Matthew Neenan is running for Bunnell’s seat as supervisor, and may be appointed to take his place.
“His expertise and wisdom will surely be missed,” said Jennings, who was recently appointed to fill George Baker’s supervisor seat. The township’s 32 miles of dirt roads have been a challenge to maintain with the increased traffic from the gas industry,of which Bunnell was a strong supporter.
In his spare time, Bunnell made silk flower scenes and decorated wooden plaques. He made shell animals to populate his scenes, and friends would bring him buckets of shells when they returned from vacation. He also crafted wooden barns and stables for his niece and nephew.
“He was planning to make something for his granddaughter,” Rosin said. “We had difficulty conceiving, and we signed last year’s birthday card with our names and “baby,” and so that was how he found out I was pregnant,” she said.
His daughter lives on her mother’s family property in Montrose, and would meet her dad for lunch at Embers, where he would play with his granddaughter.
“He was a very local person, always doing all his business in the Dimock and Montrose area,” said Robin. “He loved it here.”