Robert Louis Gunn

Posted 11/19/20

Robert Louis Gunn was born September 29, 1931, in Washington County, Alabama, near the village of Millry. He died October 29, 2020, in Chatham County, North Carolina.

A 1950 graduate of the Millry …

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Robert Louis Gunn

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Robert Louis Gunn was born September 29, 1931, in Washington County, Alabama, near the village of Millry. He died October 29, 2020, in Chatham County, North Carolina.

A 1950 graduate of the Millry public schools, he enlisted in the United States Air Force on September 11, 1950, and served in Puerto Rico until April 1952 when he was discharged to enlist in the United States Army to attend Officer Candidate School. Commissioned a second lieutenant on April 17, 1953, he served as an officer in the Army until transferring to the reserves on April 30, 1958. Bob served as unit commander in the 108th Infantry Division, an instructor in the USAR School, and a legal advisor and unit commander in the Selective Service Reserve. From June 1966 until April 1986, he was the Legal Advisor to the North Carolina State Director of the Selective Service. He retired from the Army reserve on April 30, 1986, with the rank of Colonel.

He enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill in June 1958 and received a BS in Business Administration in January 1960 and an LLB in May 1962.

Bob served as Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government at the Institute of Government from 1962-1965 when he became the attorney for the North Carolina Department of Revenue. In 1967 he became Assistant Attorney General for the State of North Carolina; he represented the Department of Revenue until he went into private practice in Pittsboro on January 2, 1969.

After serving as Town Attorney for Pittsboro, he served as County Attorney for Chatham County from December 1, 1973, until December 31, 2006. During his tenure as County Attorney, Chatham’s population more than doubled. At his retirement, the County Commissioners passed a resolution praising Bob for “providing expert legal advice in a professional, straight-forward, and unpretentious manner.” Bob provided the legal framework for many significant events in Chatham’s history, including the development of a water system, the appointment of the first county manager, the construction of five schools, and the implementation of land use regulations.

Paul Messick Jr., joined Bob in the practice of law in 1971, and they had a general law practice in civil and criminal courts until Bob’s death.

Bob married Rebekah Gray McBane on July 1, 1967, and they have a daughter Rebekah Gray Gunn who is married to Nathan Christie. His daughter Geneva Kathryn Gunn Shumaker has a son Thomas Alan Shumaker.

Bob lived his life with integrity, always true to himself and his high standards. He was a man of honesty whose every word and deed could be trusted. He enjoyed an equanimity of temperament that enabled him to traverse the turbulence of personal and professional life with calm and dignity.

No stranger to hard work, he often told of plowing the family farm with oxen or of riding over rutted dirt roads with his father to take the cattle to the Meridian Stockyards. He had to read by an Aladdin lamp since the home place did not get electricity until the 1950s.

Some people might have thought that Bob’s play was work. He planted garden after garden, raising acres of Seneca Chief yellow corn and Clemson Spineless okra. He spent countless happy hours in his workshop where he made a matching cradle and high chair for Rebekah and a four-poster bed for Kathy. While successfully sheltering at home from COVID-19, he built a huge storage cabinet for his drill bits, three lap top desks, and a walnut towel rack. A square dancer for thirty years, he was loved by the other dancers — his genial smile encouraged new dancers and his command of the calls prevented squares from breaking down.

In fact, no matter what his role in life, Bob Gunn radiated geniality and kindness that faded only in death. Bob faced death without fear although he was not in a hurry to leave the life he loved. On November 7, he was buried with Masonic Rites and Military Honors on a serene hillside at Sunnybrook, the farm he loved. To honor Bob and his love of books, the family requests that donations be made to the Chatham Community Library, 197 N.C. Highway 87, Pittsboro N.C. 27312.

Condolences may be made at

Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to serve the Gunn family.


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