Charles "Chuck" Bungum was a dentist by profession, but a free spirit by avocation.
Bungum died June 8 after suffering a stroke at age 75, leaving behind a family steeped in tales about his upbeat outlook on life, passion for Minnesota sports and family and the mischievous twinkle in his eye.
"He lived a very full life," recalled daughter Andrea Bungum. "He was a very popular guy in all areas of his life."
Indeed, Bungum, who completed his career at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1999, was once voted most popular faculty member by students of the school. At Chatfield High School, he was voted homecoming king in 1954. And he liked to remind his family and anyone who would listen that his 1952 Dodge Center High School football team was "unbeaten, untied and unscored-upon."
Born in Hayfield, Minn., Bungum was a 1954 graduate of Chatfield High School. From there he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served three years in a Navy band in which he played trumpet.
After the Navy, he attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he studied science before transferring to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.
"He wanted to be in the medical field, but he didn't want to be a physician," said his wife, Marlys, who met her future husband when they both were in the Luther College band, where she played French horn to his trumpet.
After dental school, Bungum went into private practice, first in Alexandria, Minn., and then in Rochester before he joined the University of Minnesota faculty. After retirement, he returned to Alexandria. He and his wife had homes in Alexandria and Casa Grande, Ariz.
Bungum was a season-ticket holder for the Vikings and Gophers football teams.
"C'mon Vikes, hit 'em with your purses," son Brett recalled his dad saying when the Vikings weren't playing well.
Bungum was famous for distracting his family at the dinner table to steal a cookie or a brownie and for the names he gave to various objects. The dogs of his grown kids were known as his "granddoggers," and a granddaughter's stuffed animal named Oatmeal was called "Corn Flakes" by Grandpa. Most of all, Bungum was known for dedication to family.
"He was a frugal, unpretentious Norwegian to the core, and a staunch Republican with very strong opinions," daughter Kirsten Driscoll said. "He never let anyone forget what a feat it was to be married to a German Democrat for 54 years."
He is survived by his wife; daughters Kirsten Driscoll and Andrea Bungum; son, Brett, and six grandchildren. Services have been held.
David Phelps • 612-673-7269