James Caulie Gunnells Jr passed away peacefully at his home in Croasdaile Village on June 19, 2018. Caulie was born February 4, 1931 in Greenwood SC to the late James Caulie Gunnells Sr and Frances R Gunnells where he also grew up. He graduated from Greenwood High School, Furman University and the Medical School of South Carolina. He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Virginia Burns Gunnells, and survived by his daughters, Virginia Burns Rhoton “Burns” of Durham; Mary Madge Amsler and her husband Allen Amsler of Lexington, South Carolina; his son Michael Francis Gunnells and his partner Cyndie Gregory ,of Durham; his sister, Jean Gorman of Greenwood, South Carolina; his grandsons, Michael E. Rhoton and Preston J. Freeman; a number of cousins, nieces, nephews and his furry four-legged child, Jasmine.
Our Dad was an extremely private man, a proud man and one who loved his family more than anything. He taught us so many things. He and our mom moved as newlyweds to New York City where he did his residency, at Bellevue Hospital. The stories of their time in NYC as young loves from South Carolina made us know that their love for each other could always get them through good times and bad. They moved to Virginia, as Caulie spent two years in the Navy. Then with two young children, Burns and Madge, they moved to Durham where the family was complete with the arrival of their son Michael. Caulie spent the next 30 years practicing medicine at Duke University Medical Center and then with colleagues in private practice at Wake Nephrology Group.
Dad taught us that you need to love what you do for a living. He always wanted to be a physician and wanted to take care of people and he was great at doing just that. He was one of the top Nephrologists in the country although he never cared about the accolades. He loved teaching other physicians at Duke and teaching them to think and care about each patient.
Our Dad taught us to love the arts. Dad always supported and admired our mom’s passion for art and loved traveling with her to art galleries. The countless paintings and jewelry that she created were proudly displayed in his home. Dad loved music and going to Broadway shows. The family fondly remembers weekend mornings when you could have the windows shake with music loudly playing from his beloved McIntosh Stereo. You never knew if you were going to be treated to Classical, Jazz or Rock and Roll. He had such a varied taste in music and we will so miss the memories of Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd or Boz Scaggs blasting in the den!
Our Dad loved to travel with his family but especially with our mom. They loved soaking up the culture in cities all over the world, especially in Europe and Mexico, but the most loved place was only hours away at the family beach house on Topsail Island. He taught us all to love the sun (sometimes too much), the sand and the ocean. He loved that it was just his family and we spent many of the years without a phone at the house. Nobody could interrupt the time with his family at the beach. He was completely disconnected from work and gave 100% of his time to us as DAD. The memories of where life was easy and happy at the beach will be with us forever.
Dad loved to eat at a great restaurant with his family. He loved a proper cocktail and always loved something sweet to end that meal no matter how full we already were!
Dad loved his pets. The family dog Bismark, was the first to be loved unconditionally, followed by two more Schnauzers, Daisy and then Jasmine, who has been by his side until the end. These little people with fur loved our Dad just as much as he loved them. We smile knowing that he can now shower Bismark and Daisy with love again and feed them the table scraps they have been missing from their time apart.
Dad taught us to value friendships. He knew that his profession and his dedication to his family sacrificed time with a lot of friends, but his close friends knew who they were and that he truly loved them. He wanted us to understand that true friends were to be cherished and never taken advantage of.
Dad loved to worry about his children. Sometimes the worry was justified, but most of the time it was just that he loved us so much that he did not want anything to make us sad. We all are going to miss our hero, our best friend and our Dad. We are going to miss that smile and hearing him hum a familiar song knowing he was happy. We are going to miss everything that made him who he was, but we want him to know that we are all going to be alright and that until that day comes when we see him again, we will always do our best to make him proud and smile down upon us.
Love you Dad and we will miss you so much, -Your children
The family will be having a Memorial Service at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home, 1113 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27701 on Monday, June 25th at 1pm.
The Family asks for assistance in supporting the angels that work for Hospice. If you would like to make a donation, please feel free to reach out to Transitions LifeCare of Wake County. The family can’t thank them enough! https://transitionslifecare.org/