Obituary: 'Mr. Dodge' Don Bunn, 78, wrote 13 guides on trucks

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 21, 2014 - 6:50 PM

Don Bunn’s love for trucks led him to write 13 definitive books on the subject, mostly about Dodges. He was given the name “Mr. Dodge” by his admirers, who spanned the globe.

Bunn owned an office furniture store, Officesource, and would come home after work and write. He often arose at 3 a.m. to continue his writing before returning to the store, said his wife, Dinah.

“His passion was really writing. I knew that was what made him happy,” she said.

Bunn died in June from complications related to Alzheimer’s. He was 78.

His devotion for Dodge B-Series trucks was fueled by his purchase in 1973 of a 1952 half-ton pick-up, a vehicle that he owned up until his death.

He quickly found that there was little information available for anyone who wanted to rebuild or restore an old B-Series truck. His search for relevant information about what each vehicle should have looked like as it left the factory is captured in “Dodge B-Series Trucks: Restorer’s & Collector’s Reference Guide and History.” Dodge and Chrysler representatives often sought him out for information.

For folks like Paul Cook, who runs the Kempner Power Wagon Museum in Kempner, Texas, Bunn’s meticulously researched and detailed reference guides still help him determine a reasonable price for buying or selling a vehicle or a part.

Cook started rehabilitating a 1941 civilian Dodge WC in 1983. He began collecting Dodge military and civilian four-wheel-drive trucks in 1996. Bunn’s “Dodge Trucks” became an invaluable resource.

“When my granddaughter looks up to me and asks, ‘Papa, how come you are so smart?’ I simply reply that I am not so smart, but I know smart people and I learn from them,” said Cook. “To make that point, I show her Don’s ‘Dodge Trucks.’ ”

Among the tidbits of information one might glean from a Don Bunn book: The word “pick-up,” with a hyphen, is only used for half-ton trucks.

While an expert technician and careful wordsmith, Bunn’s expertise on all things Dodge did not always extend to being able to fix them. Longtime friend John Geidl became acquainted with Bunn when he worked up the nerve to call Bunn’s phone number on the back of one of his books.

They would often take drives together in Bunn’s restored truck. One day, the brakes didn’t work as Bunn pumped them repeatedly. Geidl spent the afternoon replacing the master cylinder, with Bunn looking on.

“I realized Don was a writer and a technician but he wasn’t a mechanic,” said Geidl, who was inspired by their friendship to collect old Dodge truck service manuals and parts books from 1916 to 1980. “I helped him out. By helping him out I mean that I did the work and he would stand by and laugh.”

Dinah Bunn said her husband’s beloved 1952 Dodge truck had been stored for several years at their son’s garage in Rochester after he became ill. After his funeral, his son was feeling nostalgic and went out to the garage.

“He turned the key and the truck started right up,” she said.

Bunn was born in Duluth, one of 13 children. Alcoholism in his family led to him and his siblings being put up for adoption, and Bunn was adopted by a farm family in Pine Island, Minn., when he was around 11. He graduated from high school there, joined the Navy during the Korean War and spent four years on a destroyer. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in business, eventually opening Officesource.

Besides his wife, he is survived by daughter, Juli (Steven) Sanders; sons, David (Jeff Hay) and Robert (Andrea); and four grandsons.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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