Obituary - James Donald Brunk

James Donald Brunk

A celebration of life for James Donald “Don” Brunk is scheduled for 3 p.m. June 20, 2020, at his ranch, 1050 Fern Lane in Moose. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the First Baptist Mission Fund.

Brunk, a longtime Jackson resident, died in his sleep Nov. 5 at his home. He was 91.

His family provided the following.

Known for his humility, kindness and wisdom, Don was beloved as a leader, friend and father.

Born April 20, 1928, in Berkeley, California to parents Benjamin Franklin and Esther Norton Brunk, Don grew up in the Bay Area. He graduated from Berkeley High School and later the University of California-Berkeley, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and played on the Cal Bears golf team. Don joined the U.S. Navy after college and, as an ensign, served as a patrol plane commander.

On Aug. 31, 1952, he married Joyce “Jo” Jaeger in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. After leaving the Navy, Don moved with Jo in 1955 to Thermopolis, where he was a pilot for the Empire State Oil Company, and moved up the ranks to vice president. In 1965 Don was elected to serve the first of two terms in the Wyoming State Senate for Hot Springs County. Don was also the founder and developer of the Legion Town and Country Club in Thermopolis.

In 1970 Don was appointed by Gov. Stan Hathaway to serve as executive director of the Wyoming Department of Economic Planning and Development. He then moved with his wife and five sons to Cheyenne, where they lived for four years. From 1973 to 1978 Don also served on the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

Don and Jo purchased the 95 Ranch in 1965 and permanently settled there in 1974. They restored three historic log cabins on the property, which they then used as places of retreat for pastors and missionaries. Don and Jo were deeply involved in mentoring countless young people, many of whom lived on the ranch with them for periods of time.

Faith in Jesus Christ was a profound anchor in Don’s life. He and Jo attended First Baptist Church of Jackson Hole for many years, and were heavily involved in the founding and building of the Jackson Hole Christian Center, where he served as senior pastor for several years in the mid 1980s. More recently Don and his wife were active in a lively home church fellowship.

Don is preceded in death by his wife, Joyce (Aug. 22, 2019); son James Donald Brunk Jr. (Jan. 6, 2016); son David Cameron Brunk (May 6, 2015); and parents Benjamin and Esther Brunk.

He is survived by his brother Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Brunk Jr.; son Paul (Julie) Curtis Brunk; son Thomas (Nancy) Randall Brunk; son William (Patricia) Franklin Brunk; daughter-in-law Jan Brunk; daughter-in-law Janis Brunk; 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


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