A Life Lived: Jack Bunton saw his illnesses as challenges

Published 3:04 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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Editorial Director
Psalm 116:7 reads: “Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.”
Despite his many afflictions, Jack Bunton was able to overcome most and to realize a blessed life. In the end for sure he would say, “the Lord has been good to me.”
Bunton died Oct. 12 at the age of 73. He had worked as an educator, retiring from the Carter County School System, serving as both a teacher and principal at Central and Happy Valley Elementary Schools. When Bunton was principal at Happy Valley Elementary, it was the largest K-5 school in the state of Tennessee with 900 students. “And, he never had an assistant the entire eight years he was at the school,” said his wife, Alice, also a teacher.
“He was a very compassionate person and endeared himself to the students. Years after leaving the school, we would run into both teachers and students, who expressed their appreciation to Jack for his leadership and kindness to them,” Alice shared.
Perhaps, the highlight of his teaching career was when as head of an enrichment group, they were invited to visit Washington, D.C. They visited then Vice President George Bush and Barbara Bush at their D.C. home and a group of the students sang for them. Bunton also accompanied the fifth graders at the school on yearly trips to Nashville.
In addition to his school work, Bunton was also very active in his church at East Side Free Will, where he served as a deacon for 35 years. He also was a Sunday School teacher. In later years he attended Valley Forge Free Will Baptist Church with his wife.
Bunton and his wife had been married 53 years. They married right after high school and knowing he was going to be drafted for military service during the Vietnam era, Bunton joined the U.S. Navy. He earned the Bronze Star for his military service and participated in the Apollo 10 recovery pickup.
Jack and Alice attended East Tennessee State University and graduated together. They both taught at Happy Valley Elementary. She taught second grade at the school, and later Jack became her boss.
The couple were the parents of two children, Jason and Janean, and were grandparents to four. They also have a great-grandson. “One of Jack’s favorite things to do was to spend time with his grandchildren. He especially enjoyed telling and reading them stories, taking them to school in the mornings, and traveling with them to places like Disney World. Jack loved to travel. We went to Disney World and Daytona Beach several times, to Hawaii three times, and to Acapulco in Mexico,” Alice shared.
While Bunton was not a big reader, he did enjoy watching television, especially the Andy Griffith Show and Gunsmoke.
Bunton spent his last years in a wheelchair and confined to home. Some of his illness during his latter years was related to his being exposed to Agent Orange while serving during the Vietnam Conflict. However, Bunton had been a fighter all his life. He was afflicted with polio when he was six years old, suffered three strokes and a heart attack when he got older, and had blood clots in his lungs due to the strokes. “He went as long as he could, and he kept a good outlook on life,” said Alice.
“Jack was never one to give up. He saw his illness as a challenge and he kept going as long as a he could. His children and grandchildren have lots of good memories of him, as do many of his students. He would be the first to say that life was good to him,” shared Alice.
“He would be the first to tell you he was blessed. Always, he saw the distractions in his life as challenges,” Alice concluded.

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