January 2024

Trailblazing Women at JE Dunn

In the traditional world of construction, it’s easy to envision a landscape dominated by men. However, in the case of JE Dunn Construction, a legacy of strong, supportive women has been instrumental in shaping the company’s success. 

Among these remarkable women are Rose Dunn and her daughter-in-law Jean Aylward – individuals who defied conventional norms and forged their own paths. As we embrace Women in Construction (WIC) Week, let’s celebrate these trailblazers. 

It all began with Rose Dunn, a pivotal figure in the company’s inception, whose unwavering support for her husband, Ernie, played a critical role. Risking her inheritance and assets, including $135,000 in real estate holdings, Rose secured essential business loans and bonding approvals during the Great Depression, crucial for the company to secure vital contracts. 

While managing the household, Rose also served as Ernie’s bookkeeper in the early business days after its official incorporation, eventually becoming the company’s secretary. Their marriage was a true equal partnership, with Rose chronicling their family’s history and the company’s origins in a book that stands testament to their journey.  

In the tapestry of the Dunn family, another formidable woman, Jean Aylward, emerged as a central figure. She entered the family through marriage to Rose and Ernie’s son, Bill.  

Jean’s unwavering support strengthened their family, and she influenced the next generation of the Dunn family, molding their children into resilient, skilled individuals. She also supported the work of numerous organizations to better the community and provide for those in need.  

“Countless charities have received impactful gifts from Jean, Bill Sr., the Dunn family or JE Dunn, during her lifetime,” her son Bob Dunn wrote of his mother’s impact during her lifetime. “She was deeply committed to her faith and lived it daily through her devotion to helping the less fortunate.” Her passion and commitment to her family, the company, and her community, have inspired generations of women at JE Dunn.  

During WIC Week, we celebrate the trailblazing women of the Dunn family, serving as a reminder of the formidable influence women wield in shaping the world. With heartfelt gratitude, we reflect on their remarkable achievements and pay homage to the trail they’ve blazed for generations of women to excel in the construction industry and beyond.