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Obituary of John S. Dunham


John S. Dunham, 78, of Cortlandville passed away peacefully on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Cortland Hospital following a prolonged battle with COPD and lung cancer.

Born in 1937 in Los Angeles, the son of Ray Dunham and Edna (Anderson) Dunham, John’s life took him to many places around the country and the world. When he was 10, his family moved from Southern California to Cayuga County in Upstate New York. After graduating from Homer High School in 1953, John joined the Army and began a career in communications engineering that would eventually lead him to Cold War West Berlin, Germany, where he met and married his wife, Ingrid (Tautz) Dunham, in 1960. Their bond lasted 55 years and produced four children. He also was an eyewitness to the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Back stateside in 1965, John left the Army to continue his engineering career with the federal government. This work took him to Clay, N.Y., in 1970 and then to Waynesboro, Pa., in 1973. A man who believed in hard work and diligence, John managed to work full time, raise four kids and continue his education through Syracuse University.

In 1980, the family jumped at the opportunity to return to West Berlin, a move that would make them witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall 28 years after they had seen it erected. With the mission in Berlin accomplished, John´s career had come full circle, and he took a well-deserved early retirement in 1993. He returned with Ingrid to Upstate New York, this time to Cortlandville and the house where he would spend his last 22 years pursuing many interests, including stamp and coin collecting, family history and jigsaw puzzles.

In addition to Ingrid, John is survived by their children, Tommy of Weehawken, N.J., Ronald (Birgit Ahlemeyer) of Potsdam, Germany, Martin (Jenna) of San Francisco, Calif., and Tamara (Randy Spafford) of Cortland, N.Y.; two grandsons, Trent and Sherwood of San Francisco; sister-in-law Helen of Summer Hill, N.Y., and her children Ray, Christine, Stephanie, Brian and Greg, and brother-in-law Uwe Tautz (Christel) and niece Sandra Tautz (Christoph) of Berlin, Germany. He was predeceased by his brother, Robert, who died in 1992.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Donald L. Barber Funeral Home, 5016 N. Main St., Homer.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. until the time of the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations to CURE Epilepsy at

The family sends its heartfelt thanks to family and friends for their overwhelming support, as well as to the caring staff at the Cortland Regional Medical Center.

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