Nov. 13, 1985-Sept. 1, 2012
John Patrick Bunce, 26, died Sept. 1, 2012,
at his home in Nome. Services will be held 5 p.m. Nov. 11, 2012, at the Yurt
Village, 331 Sterling Highway.
was born Nov. 13, 1985, in Portland, Ore., to Noqah Elisi Adkins and John
Patrick Bunce Sr. John's early childhood was spent in Estacada, Ore., and when
it was time for him to begin school, he and his mother moved to Ashland where he
attended pre-school and kindergarten, while his mother worked for the university
and attended classes. It was here that John learned to snow ski, swim, ride a
bike and many other activities. He was a quiet child, a watcher with keen
observation and insatiable curiosity; he had an innate physical strength and
agility greater than most, and a wisdom beyond his years. He was, as some would
say of him, "an old soul." John was three-quarters Irish from the Keene family
in County Derry, and the Cronan family in County Cork, Ireland, and one-eighth
Cherokee of the Wolf clan from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He had
within him the spiritual awareness and emotional intelligence of his Cherokee
ancestors and the witty charm and keen intellect of his Irish roots.
In 1993, John and his mother moved to Alaska
where John attended Adventist Elementary School in Fairbanks and Nome. He
graduated from North Atlantic Regional High School, and Smoky Bay Learning
Center in Homer in 2004. He did his general college studies at Northeast State
College in Tennessee, and studied geology and diesel mechanics at University of
Alaska Fairbanks. He was certified and licensed through the state of Alaska for
diving, professional truck driving, Hazwoper and professional boating safety.
When the issue of his going on to further education was brought up, he would
say, "I am not disciplined enough to warrant the money it will cost. I think I
will wait until I am older." He wanted to study environmental law.
John's first employment was with
Tech-Connect in Homer where he learned to install computer systems and programs.
Later in Tennessee, he worked as a lens grinder/polisher for an optometrist, and
laborer for a construction company. In the restaurant that his family owned,
John washed dishes, waited tables, tended the till and cleaned.
Back in Homer he worked as a deck hand on a
fishing boat and learned to make parts and construct yurts for Nomad Shelter. In
Nome he worked at leveling buildings; in environmental, as a truck driver, and
maintenance refueler for Nome Gold, general laborer for Nome Utilities, drill
sampling for Metal Logeny, and finally for himself as a diver gold dredging.
He told his mother, "Mom, I love being down
there. It is very peaceful, and there is so much to explore and see. I want to
take pictures." For the first time beneath his words there was an exhilaration
and wonder as he described what he saw and experienced on the ocean floor; he
was discovering his passion and coming into his own.
John loved to travel. He visited Mexico,
Canada, Costa Rica and Hawaii. At age 10 he rode more than 300 miles on
horseback with the Unity of the Nations Riders from the Black Hills of South
Dakota, up to Cannon Ball, Alberta. He traveled with his mother in their
motorhome from Tennessee to Alaska visiting national parks and historical places
along the way. He talked of studying Druidism and going on a pub crawl through
Ireland, of bike trips through New Zealand and England, of climbing the pyramids
in Egypt and zip-line tours of the Costa Rican jungles. He was interested in
history, politics and current events. He read regularly Washington Post and BBC
news, and many other sources. His interest in music was widely eclectic, ranging
from the sublime to the profane. He could reproduce with perfect pitch any music
he heard, and knew all the songs, word and note from Muppet Treasure Island. He
had a beautiful tenor voice.
John was well known for his humor, his silly
little laugh and quirky grin, and for his ability to listen on a deep level and
be wise in his counsel. He had a kind and forgiving nature, non-judgmental of
others, which is why people loved being around him. He was loyal and protective
of his friends, loving to his family, concerned for their welfare, and
respectful and kind to his mother.
John lived his life openly and honestly;
there were no hidden agendas, no manipulations. He did not use others for
personal gain. He was respectful of women and children, and kind to animals; he
loved dogs and sometimes cats. He laughed a lot, cried sometimes and never
failed at loving.
He kept people close to his heart, no matter
the distance or time; his love and friendship never wavered. He was an honest
and solid friend.
His mother said, "To 'L,' With you my son
grew into youthful manhood experiencing the miracle of a good friendship
blossoming into that mysterious 'first love.' To 'S,' because of you, my son
experienced that special love so rich and rare, given and received equally. Such
a gift is priceless. You will always have a place in his mother's heart for
this. Thank you."
He is survived by his mother, Noqah Elisi,
of Homer; uncles Mike, David, Greg and John Adkins; his Aunt Jan Adkins, and
cousins Josh and Brandon Adkins of Tennessee; Rodney, Danny and Breanna
Grindstaff of North Carolina; adopted brothers Zeak, Sam and Gabe Tenhoff of
Nome; half brother and sister Brandon and Kelly Bunce of Oregon; adopted parents
Lee and Jess Tenhoff of Homer and John and Nita Klimp of Nome;
"more-like-brothers/sisters-than-friends" Mitchell and Tom of Homer, Calvin,
Joseph, Javier, Mike, Emily and Panga of Nome, Emma in Anchorage, Jeremiah and
Alex Rhodd of South Dakota; and many other friends across the country.
He was predeceased by his grandparents,
Charles and Elizabeth Adkins of North Carolina; and cousin, Keith Grindstaff of
His mother said, "The day I felt you come
into this life here beneath my heart, I knew you were an expression of God's
transcendent love, a gift sublime. Thank you, son, for the greatest honor ever
bestowed upon any woman: that of being your mother. You go now, and do the work
you are meant to do, with all our love and gratitude for the gift of you."