Newspaper editor and cartoonist Bill Dunn passed away Saturday. He was 62.
He had been with the Grand Island, Neb., Independent since March 16, 2001, most recently serving as the editor of the opinion page. He was known for his editorial cartoons, many of which drew inspiration from the Grand Island community.
Dunn had been away from work for several months, being treated for esophageal cancer. He had been undergoing chemotherapy in Grand Island.
In the hours prior to his death he had arrived in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he had gone to visit his friend John Cunningham, a retired attorney from Grand Island who is now living on the Caribbean island.
Dunn grew up in Grand Island and graduated from Grand Island Central Catholic High School. He was very active in the community and served on many boards, including the GICC Development Foundation board, the Heartland United Way and the Central Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their teenage son, Michael. He is also survived by his daughter Angie of Minneapolis as well as his son Jamie and Jamie’s wife, Honor, who live in Los Angeles with their two daughters.
Curran Funeral Chapel is in charge of funeral arrangements. Additional information about his funeral will be available in coming days.
Prior to returning to Grand Island to work at the Independent, Dunn worked at some of the most well-known newspapers in the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, Florida Today, the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
When Dunn took the editor position at the Independent, he said the Grand Island paper was smaller than other newspapers where he had worked, but it “might play a larger role in the community than some metropolitan papers” do in their communities.
“Bill devoted his heart and soul to his community and to his work at the Independent,” said Don Smith, publisher of the newspaper. “He loved the Grand Island Independent, and even though he worked for some of the most prominent large newspapers in the nation, he often said his true calling in life was to be the editor of his hometown newspaper.
“Bill was one of those rare people who possessed great intelligence and wisdom, and yet had a wonderfully gifted creative genius and sharp sense of humor.
“Bill worked hard to give the newspaper a strong, fair voice and develop the page of opinion into a vibrant public forum,” Smith said. “Bill’s editorial cartoons and Louie Longshot illustrations were popular staples of the Independent that really elevated Bill to celebrity status in the region.
“Bill leaves behind a lasting positive impact on the community and an indelible imprint on the legacy of the Grand Island Independent. Speaking on behalf of the staff, Bill will be deeply missed.”