Robert Ashton Dunnack Sr., 83, of Mansfield, died peacefully surrounded by his loving family, Dec. 22nd at Hartford Hospital after a long valiant fight with heart and lung disease. A stroke was his final struggle.
Bob was the 10th of 11 children born to William H. and Dorothy H. Dunnack, at the family homestead on July 4th, 1927 and lived his entire life at his beloved farm.
Upon returning from WWll in Italy, Bob and brothers Del, Ray, and Jerry were all signed to contracts to play minor league baseball. Bob played in the Evangeline League in New Iberia, Louisiana, part of the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
New Iberia is where Bob met and married his loving wife of 62 years, Jessie, and where their first child, Debby, was born.
Upon the end of his baseball career, Bob brought his family back home to the family homestead to care for his elderly parents and begin a new life in CT. Shortly after, his mother passed away, so Bob and Jessie purchased the homestead and cared for his father until his passing at age 93 and raised four more children.
Bob was employed for 24 years at UConn as a mason, until heart issues forced retirement.
In 1981, Bob and Jessie purchased LUCKY STRIKE LANES and still operate and enjoy promoting the game of Duckpins to young and old; Bob took great pride in keeping Lucky Strike a family environment. He wanted it to be a place where young and old could have fun in a family establishment.
Bob was the athlete most wished they could be. He was naturally talented at multiple sports. Bob and his brothers played in the Willimantic Twilight Baseball League on The Ridges team, named for the area of Mansfield where they grew up. The legacy continues after almost 60 years with sons, cousins and nephews having played on The Ridges team over the years.
Bob also played ice hockey with brothers Jerry, Ray, and Del, loved his duckpin bowling, enjoyed a good round of golf as well as hunting and fishing in the great outdoors.
Robert and his wife Jessie were inducted into the National Duckpin Hall of Fame in 1998 for their meritorious service, something Robert was very proud of.
Bob set the highest standard of sportsmanship by never getting angry, never arguing an umpire’s call and always giving his best. This was the same example he leaves as a legacy to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Bob was truly the most humble, unselfish, hardworking husband, father and grandfather. His family is blessed to have him as the patriarch of this huge family. Bob was a quiet man of few words, but when he spoke, it was always something important.
Bob always did the right thing. He was the most moral person and set the best example for his family. Family always came first-always! Some times were difficult for Bob and Jessie, but they always kept going forward and their work ethic is a marvel and greatly admired by their family.
After raising their own large family, Bob and Jessie then gave up their retirement years to raise three grandchildren, but they considered it a blessing, not a burden.
Beside his devoted wife, Jessie, Bob is survived by his 5 children Deborah (Douglas) DelMastro of Columbia, Robert Jr. of Coventry, Edward of Willimantic, Richard (Janet) of Columbia, and Jodi (James) Ouelette of Chaplin; grandchildren Christopher, Justin and Ryan DelMastro, Robbie, Colin, Kelly, Kevin, Kaitlyn and Jesse Dunnack, Tyler Rowett Jr, Melisa Garcia, and Julie Potter. Bob also leaves 8 great-grandchildren and 2 more on the way.
He leaves his brother Del of Andover, and sister Lillian Mason of Tolland, sister in laws, Jennie, Betty, Alice and Belle Dunnack and many nieces and nephews.
Bob always considered himself a lucky man in spite of numerous health and family struggles but his surviving family are the lucky ones having him as their hero. His loving memory will live in our hearts forever.
Calling hours were Tuesday, Dec. 28 at Potters Funeral Home, 456 Jackson St., Willimantic and the funeral was Wednesday Dec 29, 2010 with burial at the New Willimantic Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in Robert’s name to a charity of the donor’s choice and the family requests that friends consider becoming an organ donor.
Posted Dec. 29, 2010