VIROQUA/FERRYVILLE, OAK PARK, Ill. — Dr. Paul J. Dunn, M.D., 95, passed away Tuesday morning, March 24, 2015, at Maplewood Terrace Apartments in Viroqua, with Kathryn, his wife of 63 years, and many of the couple’s 10 children by his side.
Dr. Dunn, a retired pediatrician, was a pioneer of Montessori education in the United States and an early and leading national advocate of preventive and holistic approaches to medical care. His World War II military service as a Navy hospital corpsman with the U.S. Marines included the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Occupation of Japan.
He was born Oct. 27, 1919, behind a grocery store in Newport, Ky., to William C. Dunn and Florence (Brill) Dunn. Though his family had few resources, they believed in education. He received his high school diploma from the Covington (Ky.) Latin School at the age of 15. Following graduation, Paul took various odd jobs to support his ailing father, his mother and his six siblings, as his family struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression. During this time he attended college classes provided for Latin School graduates by a family friend, the Rev. Francis Howard, who was Covington’s Catholic Bishop and the founder of the Latin School.
While Paul had long dreamed of a career in aeronautical engineering, he discovered medicine after a visit to a Covington hospital with his sister, who was interested in nursing. He later said that it “hit me like a lightning bolt that I wanted to be a doctor.” He prayed that something would happen to allow him go to medical school. Like so many others, that something was World War II.
Paul joined the Navy in 1942 and was transferred to the Marines after assignments in Navy hospitals. He then joined the 28th Infantry Regiment of Fifth Marine Division in the months prior to the invasion of Iwo Jima. It was Marines of the 28th Regiment who raised the famous flag on Mt. Suribachi. Paul saw that flag flying shortly after it was raised from his vantage point at a battalion aid station further down the mountain.
Following the war, Paul studied at Xavier University in Cincinnati before being offered admission to Loyola University’s Medical School in Chicago. He graduated in 1951, did post-graduate studies at Harvard Medical School and then returned to Xavier to complete his undergraduate degree in 1955. He met his wife Kathryn, a fellow medical student who was pursuing a graduate degree in physiology, during his junior year. Kathryn’s medical career was soon sidetracked by the birth of the first of what would be 10 children — eight boys and two girls. Kathryn served as Paul’s indispensable partner in their numerous joint efforts to improve the lives and health of children and, ultimately, of hundreds of adult patients.
Soon after their marriage in 1951, Paul and Kathryn became active in the Christian Family Movement and served as chairs of the Pre-Cana programs and on the board of directors of the Cana Conference of the Archdiocese of Chicago. After reading an article in Jubilee Magazine about a Montessori Method school in Connecticut, they gathered a group of friends who also had large families at their home on New Year’s Eve 1960 to discuss the possibility of starting a Montessori school in Illinois.
They ultimately founded Alcuin Montessori School in Oak Park, Ill., in 1961, the second Montessori School in the United States and the first in the Midwest. Alcuin has now been operating continuously for 54 years. Paul also served on the board of trustees of the American Montessori Society from 1962 to 1965, as president of Alcuin’s Board of Directors and was a co-founder with Kathryn of the Illinois Montessori Society.
In November of 1964, the Dunns purchased a 260-acre working dairy farm in Ferryville, Wis., as a vacation home for their still-growing family. The family spent numerous summers at the farm, which the Dunns still own. Paul and Kathryn made the farm their retirement home in 2004 before moving to Viroqua in 2012.
As an outgrowth of his interest in Montessori, Paul became interested in the Doman-Delacato method of treating brain-injured children. His excitement about the possibilities of this treatment approach led Paul to leave his large pediatric practice in Chicago’s suburbs and to found the Chicago Center for the Achievement of Human Potential in 1967 with the help of Motorola CEO Paul Galvin. He served as the Center’s medical director.
As part of his work at the Chicago Center, Paul became increasingly interested in integrative, holistic approaches to medicine. In order to pursue these ideas in depth, Paul returned to private practice and founded the Center for Integrative Treatment and Biochemical Nutrition in Oak Park, one of the first such practices in Illinois. Kathryn shared Paul’s excitement about holistic medicine and joined the staff of the Center as a certified clinical nutritionist.
Among many other positions, Paul served as president of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine from 1979 to 1980, as a member of the Illinois Commission on Children from 1977 to 1981, as assistant clinical professor of Pediatrics at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University and on the staffs of St. Anne’s, Oak Park, Loretto, and West Suburban Hospitals.
Dr. Dunn is survived by his wife, Kathryn of Maplewood; 10 children, Chris (Beth) Dunn of Wilmette, Ill., Brian (Deb) Dunn of Boulder, Colo., Paul Dunn Jr. of Northlake, Ill., Peter Dunn of Van Nuys, Calif., Michael Dunn of Los Angeles, Calif., Mark (Ann) Dunn of Chicago, John (Alexa) Dunn of Chicago, Sarah Dunn of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., Jeff Dunn of La Crosse, Julie Dunn of Boulder; nine grandchildren, Zeke Dunn, Molly Dunn, Kelly Barnd, Jacob Barnd, Jack Dunn, Patrick Dunn, Katie Dunn, Ian Dunn, Raleigh Dunn; one brother, Neil Dunn; and two sisters, Florence Wehry and Eleanor Groeschen; other relatives and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Edward, Jack, and Bill Dunn; and one sister, Mary Zaffiro.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Viroqua with Msgr. Francis Abuah-Quansah officiating. Military rites will be provided at the church by Running-Johnson-Ray VFW Post No. 3032, Jacobson-Olson American Legion Post No. 138, and the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard. Friends may call from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Thorson Funeral Home in Viroqua. There will be a special military tribute at 5:30 p.m. Friends may also call after 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Mary’s. A Mass of Christian Burial will also be held at 11 a.m. Monday, March 30, at St. Edmund’s Catholic Church in Oak Park, Ill. Burial will be in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Ill. Friends may also call from 10 a.m. Monday at St. Edmund’s Catholic Church.
Online condolences may be sent to email@example.com.