Jack Lunnen


Jack Dell Lunnen, 72, died peacefully in his home on Jan. 5, 2021, surrounded by loving family and friends.

A native of Riverside, Calif. he was preceded in death by his parents, Jack Clark and Ermie Evelyn Lunnen (Boothe).

He achieved the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and served his country in Vietnam for more than two years. He received an undergraduate degree in physical therapy from California State University-Fresno, and a master’s degree in physical therapy with a focus on biomechanics from The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Jack lived in Sylva for 42 years, working as a physical therapist in home health for many years and then assuming more administrative responsibilities as Director of Rehabilitation Services.

He was always a generous advocate for individuals with disabilities in the community and helped to found Physically Challenged, Inc. and make Balsam Lake and Lodge accessible.

He loved baseball and was active as a mentor to his three sons and a coach for a variety of teams from Little League to traveling club teams. He was also an avid bicyclist, riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost daily with his long term friend, Jim Shanley.

Jack always had a project, often restoring classic cars, refinishing furniture or creating special places to enjoy nature. The interests and activities of his family were supported in a variety of ways, including in recent years the volleyball and horseback riding pursuits of his two daughters.

He is survived by his wife of 16 years, Linda Bianchi Lunnen; daughters, Olivia and Emily of the home; previous wife, Karen Yundt Lunnen, and their sons, Benjamin (Hollie) of Trinity, N.C., Andrew (Missy) of Charleston, S.C.; and Jacob (Amanda) of Cleveland, Tenn.; and sisters, Connie Durham (John), Ginny Campbell (Ron) and Margie Allison. He cherished his family and his steadfast love was unquestioned, extending to his five grandsons, Grey, Reece, William, Knox and John; one granddaughter, Kingsley; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Jack’s life will be held on a beautiful spring day in the future.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Blue Ridge Parkway Conservation Fund (https://www.conservationfund.org/projects/blue-ridge-parkway), Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (www.pancan.org or 877-272-6226) or RollingStart NC, a local nonprofit that takes used cars and makes them safe, clean and mechanically sound for families in need at 83 Meadow View Drive, Sylva, NC 28779.