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Mon, April 12

Obituary: Richard Don Gunder

Richard succumbed to COVID-19 on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. He is survived by his parents, Cleta and Rick Gunder; sister, Crystal Gunder Foster; brother-in-law, Ron Foster of Dewey; and niece, Nicole Sage in Los Angeles, California; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and co-workers.

Richard’s Spirit is now with his grandparents in Heaven. Born April 18, 1973, at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, his childhood, as an Army “brat” was filled with travel — from Schofield Barracks Hawaii to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, and next to Bakersfield, California, before his father was reassigned to Fort Ord, California.

While at Fort Ord, Richard developed a lifelong love of music, he played the drums, keyboards, and the guitar. In 1983, the family moved to Goppingen, Germany, where both Richard and Crystal became fluent in the southern German dialect as the family lived on the economy initially.

In 1986, the family moved from Germany to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Richard continued his love of music, playing in the school band. In 1990, Richard, Rick, and Cleta drove to Anchorage, Alaska, where Richard continued playing musical instruments. His band teacher took an immediate liking to him and helped him understand that he really did need to be able to read music not just play by ear. Upon high school graduation in May 1993, Richard decided to remain in Alaska and try his hand at commercial fishing while his parents retired from military service and returned to the lower 48 and Prescott Valley. In October 1993, Richard returned to the lower 48 to his parents’ home and went to work in the equipment rental field with his father.

1994 saw Richard enlisting in the U.S. Navy, and after initial training he found himself on a Navy sub-tender. Later in his Navy career, Richard attended Aviation training and went to work on SH-60B Seahawk helicopter engine and rotor systems. He deployed to the northern Arabian Gulf where he oversaw the maintenance of 17 aircraft and 32 sailors.

Upon return from the desert after a short tour at Point Magu, California, Richard deployed to Antarctica at McMurdo Station in support of the National Science Foundation Antarctic operations. His unit, VXE-6, the “Ice Pirates,” was the Navy’s only LC130F/R ski equipped Hercules aircraft. VXE-6, with a picture of Richard, were featured in the May 25, 1998, issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. Richard was also the Team Leader for the McMurdo Station opening in 1998.

Richard left the Navy and moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas (where his sister Crystal lived), and went to work for Tyson Foods in 2007. There he was responsible for a crew of 25 team members on production units producing corn chips and tortillas for national accounts. In 2010, he decided a change was in order and he became a commercial truck driver with USA Trucking. He worked for a couple local Fayetteville trucking companies before he was hired by DMT Services driving long haul through multiple states. He once brought a load from Oklahoma to Phoenix and was able to get a “home cooked” meal before he had to get some rest and return to Oklahoma.

In October 2014, Richard was diagnosed with cancer and his life was changed forever. After three surgeries he underwent 285 hours of chemotherapy and was left with neuropathy on both hands and both feet. He had to sell his beloved Honda VTX motorcycle due to the neuropathy. In 2016, he decided to move back to Prescott Valley, where he began a new career as a Behavioral Health Technician. His favorite pastime was remote control aircraft and he loved flying computer flight simulations. He had several RC aircraft as well as RC helicopters and he became a proficient pilot. Richard worked locally at Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Mingus Mountain Academy, and West Yavapai Guidance before his COVID diagnosis.

In Lieu of flowers please make a donation to the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” Team “Not Quite Right.”

Information provided by survivors.

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