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Welcome to the memorial page for

Richard Lee Gunden

April 18, 1946 ~ April 26, 2017 (age 71)

The Piano Brothers

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Memorial Service
June 10, 2017

2:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Howard County
9325 Presbyterian Circle
Columbia, MD 21045

Richard Lee Gunden was the first of five sons born to Marlin Dale Gunden and Ruth Anna Albrecht-Gunden in the village of Pigeon, (population 1,208) in Huron County, Michigan.  Richard received part of his early education in a one-room school house, and his aunt Greta was once his teacher. He recalled that report card day was not typical for him. Aunt Greta would hand deliver young Richard’s mixed results directly to his mother for inspection.

Richard and his brother Ronald, the two eldest sons, helped their parents work on the family farm and care for the animals. Richard had many memories of growing up in the country and would recollect both the funny mishaps with runaway livestock and the grueling hours spent laboring on the farm. Those early experiences forged his belief in self-improvement through hard work and helped to shape his curiosity for a wider world.

Richard’s ambitions took him to Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Later he achieved a master’s degree in rehabilitation administration at the DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

Throughout his early career Richard embarked on a variety of “life experiences” in a deliberate fashion, including a warehouse manager in charge of a New York perfume packaging factory and a staff member in a Chicago hospital.  The Chicago hospital experience was in exchange for serving in the war. Richard was a conscientious objector.  He interreacted with all types of people through those work experiences and it provided an opportunity for living a life outside the farm.

That was Richard — a welcoming soul and an adventurer. He liked people in every shape and size and color, and from all socio-economic backgrounds. He had a gentle yet charismatic nature and told long-winded jokes that made people laugh.

A childhood medical experience endeared him to the causes of individuals with disabilities, and he would work tirelessly for 18 years as the CEO with The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, fighting for the rights of this select population and fostering professional collaborations among various centers for independent living in Toledo and its surrounding counties. Richard felt strongly, even many years later, that this role was one of his greatest achievements in life.

His compassion for people with special needs and his passion for doing what is right are attributes often given to Richard. His many citations, from the Governor of Toledo’s office as well as various organizations and commissions, confirm this. His leadership qualities made him an important voice in state and federal independent living causes. Richard played an integral role in the passage of the federal bill for the creation of the National Council on Independent Living and was present at its signing.

Later returning to Eastern Mennonite University as Vice President for Advancement, Richard became a ground-breaking fundraiser, always working with conviction, and cherished and admired by his colleagues.

Richard was a good father, husband, and brother.  He is survived by his wife, Blessing, his children, Erica and Jeremy, his brothers, Ron, Jay, Clayton, and Lamar and their wives, as well as cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, friends, and associates.

~~~“Sleep now, my Love, no more pain. You are but a memory away — until we meet again. I will forever love you!” - BG


Memorial Service
Saturday June 10, 2017 2:00 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Howard County
9325 Presbyterian Circle
Columbia, MD21045

Charitable donations may be made to:

First Presbyterian Church of Howard County
9325 Presbyterian Circle, Columbia MD 21045
Tel: 1-410-730-3545

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