Rodney Sturgis Bunker was born on September 21, 1928 in Porterville, California, and left us to be with our Lord on January 4, 2020 surrounded by his loving family. His life will be celebrated on Friday, January 17th with a 10:00 AM visitation and a 11:00 AM Mass at St. Gilbert Church 301 E. Belvidere Rd, Grayslake, and interment to follow at Ascension Cemetery in Libertyville.
Rodney was predeceased by his parents, Beulan and Clara Bunker, as well as his brother Bruce Bunker and sister Marthellen Petersen. He will be greatly missed by those he cherished and who loved him greatly: his loving wife of nearly 65 years, Marie Bunker, daughters Dawn Matthews and Dru Frick, sons-in-law Joseph Matthews and Brian Frick, grandchildren Timothy Frick, Shannon Feretich (Nick), Sarah Matthews, Laura Matthews and Christopher Matthews, his closest niece, Carol DeCrona, as well as many other nieces and nephews.
After high school, Rodney attended Fresno State College, then went on to earn his bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He went to work first for Northrop Grumman, then for Burroughs Corporation and soon was made General Manager of a computer design and manufacturing plant in Pasadena. In 1969, he opened a new plant in Santa Barbara, and served as General Manager there, leading them to great success. There in Santa Barbara, he not only led from within the company, but collaborated with outside resources to bring advanced technology to Burroughs and place them on the cutting edge of computer hardware development. In addition to being a highly professional and successful leader, his compassionate nature extended to those who worked under him. He made it a point to know all of his over 1,000 employees by name and make a personal connection with them. He also initiated the first of many annual family picnics to help foster a community spirit within his employees. Because of his excellent track record in leadership and management, Rod was asked to return to Pasadena where he successfully turned around a plant that was in distress. Shortly after that, he was appointed to Vice-President and he and his wife Marie moved to Michigan where he then managed plants all over the world, including England, Belgium, Japan and Korea, among others. Under his leadership, these plants were also brought to success. Upon retiring from Burroughs (now Unisys Corp.), Rodney opened a successful tax preparation and bookkeeping service which had always been an interest of his to pursue after retirement. He and Marie operated R&M Tax Service in Florida until 1993, when they moved to Grayslake, Illinois. Rodney was so well loved by his clients that he retained many from Florida, as well as building up a large clientele in Grayslake.
Although Rodney’s professional career was outstanding and garnered respect from those worked with or for him, it was Rod as a husband, father and grandfather that make him a great man. He was a man of great faith and passed this along to his two daughters. He loved his wife, Marie, with all his heart and she was truly the center of his world. He loved and supported his daughters in all their interests from dance to horses and everything in between as they grew up and, not only taught them the importance of an academic education, but also the knowledge and appreciation of how the natural world works. He was a lover of classical music and passed along the love of music to his children and grandchildren. He was never too busy to help his children or grandchildren with everything from home projects, building dog houses and model planes, taking grandkids to football practice, giving hours of math help, swim lessons, and taking and picking up from school. He took great pride in his grandchildren and loved always hearing about their accomplishments.
Rodney was a man of great faith and an inspiring role model for his children. He was raised in the Methodist church but became a devout Catholic in later years. He bravely battled Parkinson’s Disease for the last 10 years of his life with grace and dignity, knowing that his mission was to still be here for his wife that he adored. When that mission was over, he peacefully went with that same dignity. He touched the lives and hearts of many and will be sorely missed, but his kind and compassionate spirit will live on in our hearts.
Donations can be made in of Rodney’s memory to the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls of Chicago 1140 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607 or www.mercyhome.org, The Symonds Lakes Funeral Home of Grayslake were entrusted with the arrangements, for additional information please contact the funeral home 847-543-1080.