Obituary: Dan Dunnigan

Dan Dunnigan
Provided Photo
Dan Dunnigan

July 28, 1945 – July 2, 2021

The Roaring Fork Valley has lost one of its best-loved friends. On July 2, Dan Gerald Dunnigan, 75, suddenly passed in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to a lingering illness.

Dan was born July 28, 1945, in Pendleton, Oregon, to Jerry and Fay Dunnigan. He attended Washington Grade School, then Helen McCune Junior High. It was there that he began playing a trumpet and was a band member throughout his school years. A visit to the high school was made by Doc Severinsen of the Johnny Carson Tonight Show. Dan became one of few who could master Doc’s signature, “triple-tongue” trumpet-play. Other school activities included the yearbook staff and ski club. His mother, Fay, was an avid skier in her youth.

Soon after his high school graduation and attendance at Eastern Oregon College, Dan began his life of outdoor adventure at the US Forest Service’s Dale Ranger District, then moved on to become a Northwest-area smoke jumper. During winters, he resided in the Roaring Fork Valley at Aspen, Colorado—a huge step up from his beginning days on the rope tows of Eastern Oregon’s Anthony Lakes and Tollgate ski areas. Dan soon became a certified ski instructor, a vocation he followed in Aspen for some 40 years. Dan was a favorite instructor and skiing partner. In summers, he worked as a professional guide for groups rafting the whitewater of the West’s largest rivers. Sandwiched among these activities was real estate sales work.

In recent years, Dan retired from skiing and rafting work. In its place, he took up full-time RV travel in western states. He often worked as a staff person at large campgrounds.

Dan was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Teri Dunnigan Jackson. Surviving him is a cousin, Susan Martin Pleasant (Jim) of Dallas, Texas, and nieces and nephews. Davis Mortuary, Las Vegas, NV, is in charge of arrangements.

A close friend recently remarked, “I knew Dan for 60 years. He was slow to criticize and the first to laugh with you and at himself—a generous soul who will be missed by many.”