Longtime Resident of Los Altos
April 17, 1923 – May 18, 2013
Charles Elmer Dunn, 90, passed away peacefully on May 18, 2013. Commonly known as “Chuck” by friends and associates, he was “Grandpa Charley” to his family. A resident of Mountain View and Los Altos since 1946, Charley and his wife, Val, moved to California in 1943. He is survived by son Charles (Nancy) Dunn, Jr. of Los Altos and three beloved grandchildren: Jeffrey (Noelle) Dunn of Los Altos, Jennifer (Chris) Bridgman of Mountain View, and Jessica (Arnd) Geis of Santa Clara. He was the proud great-grandfather to six children, all under the age of four: Emilie, Christopher, Amelie, Tristan, Hunter and a baby boy due this fall. He is survived by a sister, Maxine Tucker of Arizona. He was predeceased by his loving wife and soul mate of 63 years, Yvonne Valerie Dunn, and his daughter, Carol Diane Dunn, who passed away in 1981 at the age of 21.
The second youngest of seven children, Charley was born on April 17, 1923 in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. His father (James Elmer Dunn; 1883-1926), passed away when Charley was just a toddler, and times were tough growing up in rural Oklahoma amidst the Great Depression. By age 13, Charley began leaving home to support himself, hitching rides on the railroad and sending money back home to his mother whenever he could. Despite having only an eighth-grade education, Charley’s work ethic, intelligence and charisma paid off. He found work as a ranch hand in Wyoming, a truck driver in Kentucky and Minnesota, and he even worked at the original McDonald’s hamburger stand in San Bernadino. Stories of his early adventures later captivated all who knew him, but his favorite story involved a chance encounter at a diner in Minnesota with the young woman who would later become his wife.
In 1943, Charley married the love of his life, Val. Their son, Charles Jr., was born while Charley was stationed on a destroyer in the Pacific during WWII. Following Charley’s discharge from the Navy, he began working in the automotive repair business, first at Tuban Ford in Sunnyvale, followed by Mancini Motors in Mountain View. In 1975, Charley opened Dunn’s Automotive in downtown Mountain View, which he continued to run well into his seventies. Charley worked hard, but he liked to play, too. In the 1980s and 1990s, his weekends were often spent with family and friends at his vacation home in Discovery Bay, where he enjoyed boating, barbecuing, fishing, playing cards, listening to country music and finding time for a good story or two. An avid golfer, Charley was a member of the Los Altos Golf & Country Club where he regularly met buddies for 18 (and sometimes 19) holes of golf.
Charley will be remembered for his kind heart and playful sense of humor. He was devoted to his family, and although he tended to spoil loved ones with gifts, it was his generosity of time that will be remembered most. “Grandpa Charley” was the ultimate grandfather. From overnight fishing trips with his grandson to playing “Beauty Parlor” with his granddaughters, he cultivated meaningful relationships with his grandchildren that continued to evolve over the course of three decades. We will miss the twinkle in his blue eyes and the soft-spoken drawl in his voice, but we take comfort in knowing he has moved on to a better place. Charley, thank you for showing us by example what it means to live a good, honest life with love in your heart. May you rest in peace.
A memorial service and celebration of Charley’s life will take place on Wednesday, May 29 at 10 am at Spangler Mortuary in Los Altos (399 S. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos). Following the burial at Alta Mesa Cemetery, a reception will be held at Charley’s home in Los Altos (address information to be provided at memorial service.)