June 2024

Mary Kathleen Dunn

Mary Kathleen was born on November 4, 1967, the youngest child and only daughter of Bill and Jean Dunn, and the younger sister to five older brothers.

On the day Mary Kathleen entered the world, the physician who helped deliver her knew she had Down syndrome, but failed to see that she also had a potentially fatal heart defect.

A few days after she was born, Bill flew her to Washington, D.C., where a doctor was offering a new medication to improve the mental function of Down syndrome children. However, the drug never lived up to the claims. At four months old, Mary’s heart issues surfaced, and she underwent surgery.

Mary was an inspiration to the entire Dunn family. Her brother, Bob Dunn, said that her survival of multiple operations and all her health challenges made the family realize that they are not on this earth to merely take care of themselves.

“We’ve got to be doing more and helping others,” he said.

Mary’s intellect was that of a two or three-year-old child, even into adulthood. Living in Immacolata Manor, a home for disabled women, Bill and Jean would pick her up regularly and bring her home for a visit, where, according to Jean, Bill doted on Mary.

As part of their weekend ritual, Bill would drive Mary around to different construction sites and often made the rounds at JE Dunn headquarters on Saturday mornings. Mary also had the first pink JE Dunn hard hat, made especially for her visits to the sites.

“Having Mary in my life has rearranged my priorities,” Bill Dunn said. “It’s strengthened my commitment toward helping the less fortunate.”

Mary had a sweet and oftentimes ornery disposition about her, making a strong impression on those who knew her. Her impact on the lives of the Dunn family inspired their dedication to philanthropic efforts through the Dunn Family Foundation, a ritual of giving that is still strong today.

Mary Kathleen passed away at the age of 39, on September 6, 2007, due to complications from a bacterial infection. Her spirit remains alive and well through the giving of the Dunn family and JE Dunn.