John Patrick Bunce, 26, died Sept. 1, 2012, at his home in Nome. Services will be held 5 p.m. Nov. 11, 2012, at the Yurt Village, 331 Sterling Highway. For more information, call 299-6448.
John was born Nov. 13, 1985, in Portland, Ore., to Noqah Elisi Adkins and John Patrick Bunce Sr. John’s early childhood was spent in Estacada, Ore., and when it was time for him to begin school, he and his mother moved to Ashland where he attended pre-school and kindergarten, while his mother worked for the university and attended classes. It was here that John learned to snow ski, swim, ride a bike and many other activities. He was a quiet child, a watcher with keen observation and insatiable curiosity; he had an innate physical strength and agility greater than most, and a wisdom beyond his years. He was, as some would say of him, “an old soul.” John was three-quarters Irish from the Keene family in County Derry, and the Cronan family in County Cork, Ireland, and one-eighth Cherokee of the Wolf clan from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He had within him the spiritual awareness and emotional intelligence of his Cherokee ancestors and the witty charm and keen intellect of his Irish roots.
In 1993, John and his mother moved to Alaska where John attended Adventist Elementary School in Fairbanks and Nome. He graduated from North Atlantic Regional High School, and Smoky Bay Learning Center in Homer in 2004. He did his general college studies at Northeast State College in Tennessee, and studied geology and diesel mechanics at University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was certified and licensed through the state of Alaska for diving, professional truck driving, Hazwoper and professional boating safety. When the issue of his going on to further education was brought up, he would say, “I am not disciplined enough to warrant the money it will cost. I think I will wait until I am older.” He wanted to study environmental law.
John’s first employment was with Tech-Connect in Homer where he learned to install computer systems and programs. Later in Tennessee, he worked as a lens grinder/polisher for an optometrist, and laborer for a construction company. In the restaurant that his family owned, John washed dishes, waited tables, tended the till and cleaned.
Back in Homer he worked as a deck hand on a fishing boat and learned to make parts and construct yurts for Nomad Shelter. In Nome he worked at leveling buildings; in environmental, as a truck driver, and maintenance refueler for Nome Gold, general laborer for Nome Utilities, drill sampling for Metal Logeny, and finally for himself as a diver gold dredging.
He told his mother, “Mom, I love being down there. It is very peaceful, and there is so much to explore and see. I want to take pictures.” For the first time beneath his words there was an exhilaration and wonder as he described what he saw and experienced on the ocean floor; he was discovering his passion and coming into his own.
John loved to travel. He visited Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Hawaii. At age 10 he rode more than 300 miles on horseback with the Unity of the Nations Riders from the Black Hills of South Dakota, up to Cannon Ball, Alberta. He traveled with his mother in their motorhome from Tennessee to Alaska visiting national parks and historical places along the way. He talked of studying Druidism and going on a pub crawl through Ireland, of bike trips through New Zealand and England, of climbing the pyramids in Egypt and zip-line tours of the Costa Rican jungles. He was interested in history, politics and current events. He read regularly Washington Post and BBC news, and many other sources. His interest in music was widely eclectic, ranging from the sublime to the profane. He could reproduce with perfect pitch any music he heard, and knew all the songs, word and note from Muppet Treasure Island. He had a beautiful tenor voice.
John was well known for his humor, his silly little laugh and quirky grin, and for his ability to listen on a deep level and be wise in his counsel. He had a kind and forgiving nature, non-judgmental of others, which is why people loved being around him. He was loyal and protective of his friends, loving to his family, concerned for their welfare, and respectful and kind to his mother.
John lived his life openly and honestly; there were no hidden agendas, no manipulations. He did not use others for personal gain. He was respectful of women and children, and kind to animals; he loved dogs and sometimes cats. He laughed a lot, cried sometimes and never failed at loving.
He kept people close to his heart, no matter the distance or time; his love and friendship never wavered. He was an honest and solid friend.
His mother said, “To ‘L,’ With you my son grew into youthful manhood experiencing the miracle of a good friendship blossoming into that mysterious ‘first love.’ To ‘S,’ because of you, my son experienced that special love so rich and rare, given and received equally. Such a gift is priceless. You will always have a place in his mother’s heart for this. Thank you.”
He is survived by his mother, Noqah Elisi, of Homer; uncles Mike, David, Greg and John Adkins; his Aunt Jan Adkins, and cousins Josh and Brandon Adkins of Tennessee; Rodney, Danny and Breanna Grindstaff of North Carolina; adopted brothers Zeak, Sam and Gabe Tenhoff of Nome; half brother and sister Brandon and Kelly Bunce of Oregon; adopted parents Lee and Jess Tenhoff of Homer and John and Nita Klimp of Nome; “more-like-brothers/sisters-than-friends” Mitchell and Tom of Homer, Calvin, Joseph, Javier, Mike, Emily and Panga of Nome, Emma in Anchorage, Jeremiah and Alex Rhodd of South Dakota; and many other friends across the country.
He was predeceased by his grandparents, Charles and Elizabeth Adkins of North Carolina; and cousin, Keith Grindstaff of North Carolina.
His mother said, “The day I felt you come into this life here beneath my heart, I knew you were an expression of God’s transcendent love, a gift sublime. Thank you, son, for the greatest honor ever bestowed upon any woman: that of being your mother. You go now, and do the work you are meant to do, with all our love and gratitude for the gift of you.”