Stillwater News Press

October 3, 2013

Donald Ray Gunkel

Stillwater NewsPress

— Donald Ray Gunkel, 72, of Stillwater passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on Oct. 2, 2013, with his loving family at his side.  Services have been entrusted to the care of Palmer Marler Funeral Home and a service celebrating Don’s remarkable life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the River of Life Church at 9404 S. Perkins Road in Stillwater.  Public visitation will be from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and the family will greet friends from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home.

Donald Ray Gunkel was born on Sept 13, 1941, in Eldorado to Fred and Dorothy (Paden) Gunkel. He grew up and attended school in Borger, Texas, and after finishing the 11th grade, Don enlisted in the United States Navy in 1959. After eight years of active duty, Don wan honorably discharged from the US Navy and later reenlisted in the Navy Reserve where he served for several more years. On May 19, 1967, Don married the love of his life and his best friend, Sharon Shrader, in Stinnett, Texas.  

In 1977, Don, Sharon and their daughter Michelle relocated to Stillwater. He worked for Remington Rand and Raleigh Bicycle Company in Enid for several years. Don spent three years working as the building and grounds superintendent for Mercury Marine and spent several years working as a salesman for Grimsley’s. In the early 1980s, Don accepted a position as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. Nearly 15 years later, Don retired from the USPS. Don also operated D&S Cleaning, a janitorial service owned by Don and Sharon.

Don enjoyed fishing, camping, and skiing. In the late 70s and early 80s Don coached T-ball and soccer for second-grade girls with Stillwater’s Parks and Recreation Department. He was a self-taught amateur computer repairman who was always available to help a friend in need. Don had a great sense of humor and enjoyed giving his friends and family nicknames such as  “Craigbert,” “Dobbin” and “Monkeyshell.” Don was a gifted poet and had several poems published. He was very generous in small ways and never sought attention for his kindness and generosity. Don loved the Lord and truly had a servant’s heart. He was a longtime member of River of Life Church where he was a trustee for 10 years. He assisted in the building of the church and has spent many years cleaning and maintaining the facilities.

Don Gunkel was a devoted husband, a loving father, a proud grandfather, a caring brother and a loyal friend.  He left an unmistakable mark on many lives and he will be missed by all who knew him. The family wishes to thank the doctors and nurses on the third floor at Stillwater Medical Center for the kindness and compassion they showed during Don’s illness.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Virginia Gunkel.  Don is survived by his wife Sharon, of the home, daughter Michelle Dowd and husband Jim, of Beggs, son Donny Fritz of Liberal, Kan., brother Richard Gunkel and wife Jane of Shallowater, Texas,  eight grandchildren: Rachel Jordan and husband Caleb, Ryan Dowd, J. Matthew Dowd, Joshua Dowd, Jacob Dowd, Nikki Hargrove, Rebecca Hargrove and Elizabeth Hargrove. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and other family members.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the River of Life Church, 9404 S. Perkins Road, Stillwater, OK, 74074.  

Condolences may be sent to the family via an online guestbook at or on Facebook at