(I wrote this on February 28 in honor of my father-in-law, Dee Dunagan, not knowing he would peacefully pass away by the end of the same day).
Soon my two daughters will be bringing our two new grandbabies into the world. A boy is due end of April, a baby girl mid-August. I’m in that season of life when new grandbabies are soon arriving around the time that their great grandfather will be leaving us.
The groaning of death and new birth intermingled is not lost on this baby boomer, soon to be sixty. It is the dance of my generation: such sweet joy of anticipation of new life coupled with the pain of saying goodbye to the father-in-law I first met when I was only twenty-one and falling in love with his son.
New life beginning while old life ending has been happening for thousands of years, yet that doesn’t make it any easier for the goodbye that is coming so soon.
Dee Dunagan will be joining the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. Parkinson’s has been taking him from us the past few years. Hospice has now been called and soon he will enter Glory from the beautiful home he built on a lake in Nebraska two decades ago.
His beloved wife, Roselan, will be by his side when he goes Home. Early this morning, she whispered, “I love you!” and he opened his eyes and whispered a slight smile back.
Parents of four boys—my Rick is their second—Dee and Roselan Dunagan’s love story is what romance movies are made of . . . only better.
They met in high school in Albion, a quiet town in Nebraska. After graduating high school, Dee soon got called to Japan to serve in the army during the Korean War. That very smart Nebraska man asked Roselan to marry him before he left and he wrote her every day during their two years apart. Roselan was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and started planning their wedding so they could marry as soon as he returned home.
While traveling home from the war to his soon-to-be-bride, Dee had debilitating sea sickness, and so his custom-tailored suit from Tokyo no longer fit him for their wedding, celebrated just ten days after his return.
Now married almost sixty-five years, their death-do-us-part marriage has been like a beacon of hope to their family. They love their family fiercely and have covered us with watchful prayer for decades.
Forever grateful for the great-grandfather of our grandbabies, Dee Dunagan has truly lived out 2 Timothy 4:6–8:
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
I love you, Dad. Thank you for raising such an amazing son who will carry on your legacy of prayer and fierce love for his family.
I love this so much!
This is so beautiful, Judy! The generational love and the way you portrayed it was flowing and heartfelt. That is the same verse my great grandma had at her funeral. Now maybe you could read this tribute at his service. Blessings to you and your family. This temporary parting is difficult but we have the assurance we’ll see our loved ones again soon.
Thank you so much!
This is such a beautiful tribute to him and the life that he and Roselan shared. My husband grew up admiring him and he was like a second father to him. I am so blessed to have met him and got to spend some time with him and Roselan during family reunions. He will be dearly missed.
How beautiful!! What a love story. I’m so thankful for your words and insight into life’s transitions. You are so good at honoring those who pass on to Jesus ahead of us.
Thank you, Heather. That means so much.
I loved reading this, Judy! I’ve heard their story many times, but love rereading it and remembering what an awesome man he was. Your family has been truly blessed by this man and I know his memory will live on. To God Be The Glory!
Judy, thank you for sharing such an intimate time with us. This was so tenderly and beautifully written. Peace be unto you all.
Judy, that is a beautiful tribute to Dee! I know that Dee and Derald are together again. We will see them again when our time comes.
So true, Verna.
I loved this Judy. You are a gifted writer and editor!! Thank you for this inspiring tribute.
Thank you, Glynnis!
Judy, I love your blog and especially love how you remember the precious lives of those who have come before you. Blessed to have read this! I love those pictures too…
Thank you, Isabel!