Mrs. Grace Tunks, a longtime resident of Bucyrus, Kansas, died suddenly June 4, 2017 in Olathe, Kansas.
Grace Winona Miller Tunks was born on March 24, 1937, at her parents' farmhouse near Conroy, Iowa. After graduating high school, she moved to the Kansas City area, where her older sister, Thelma Herman, and her husband, Rev. Dean Herman and their children were living at the time. She began working at Saint Paul Insurance shortly afterwards in their mailroom and served loyally until her retirement. Grace's future husband, Mr. Derwin Tunks, entered her life not long after she began her career, and they married September 1, 1963. After residing in Kansas City, then in Bonner Springs for their working lives, they became a permanent fixture in Bucyrus. They had no children. Grace took joy in her multiple nieces and nephews on both her and Derwin's side of the family.
Thelma's eight children have an overflowing memory bank of time spent with Aunt Grace. One cherished recollection is Aunt Grace traveling to Curtis, Nebraska to join in decorating the Christmas tree at her sister Thelma's house years ago. Her nieces and nephews remember the pleasure she took in this task, along with the treats she baked for them. She consistently engaged with their lives and remembered them with birthday cards and meaningful gifts. In addition, Grace and Derwin generously provided experiences as well, such as trips to local points of interest. Grace was a kid at heart and loved amusement park rides with the younger nieces.
Having a special fondness for kittens since childhood, Grace and her husband were never without a cat for a pet. After moving to Bucyrus, they adopted numerous stray felines, neutering them and lovingly looking after them. Cats could be found lounging about in their home and yard, and she sported clothing with cat motifs. Grace liked flowers, especially daffodils. Her letters frequently mentioned her flower garden.
Grace had a literary streak. Featuring her nieces and nephews in short stories creatively written, she would occasionally pitch ideas for the names of characters and let them in on the plot. Her niece Andi, as well as local adolescents, were employed to draw cover illustrations for several of these literary works. One work was a children's play called Mary, and was published in a book of children's Christmas programs, of which Grace proudly distributed copies. In later years, she recorded family vignettes and mailed them to her family along with newsy letters. The local post office knew her by name. As the last link to Thelma, her nieces and nephews treasured the recollections of life on the farm and of Grandma and Grandpa Miller.
One thing Grace did not appreciate was Daylight Savings Time, which she renamed "Daylight Stupid Time". Many misfortunes were attributed to this affront to timekeeping.
Family was uber important to Grace. Interested in genealogy, Grace carefully recorded birth dates, marriages and achievements in a notebook for her sister and brother and their children, and now their grandchildren. Like her Aunt Henrietta, she could recall birth dates and anniversaries with clarity. She succeeded in finding the children of her missing brother Stanley, forming a close bond with his daughter VIcky Miller Wall in West Virginia, as they conversed 2-3 times a week.
Another hobby Grace pursued was travel. She and Derwin escorted her parents on numerous trips around the country, kidnapped Thelma for a grand journey out West, and even hosted niece Marijo and later, Andi for unforgettable adventures to the East Coast. Later in life, they took memorable road trips with her cousin Shirley--whose driving skills came in handy when they toured Chicago!
Grace Tunks would like most to be remembered as a Christian. A sincere believer in Jesus Christ since adolescence, and influenced by her pastor brother-in-law, she and her husband attended Nazarene churches throughout her life. Most recently they worshiped at Westside Church of the Nazarene in Olathe. Missions were a passion with Grace, and she and Derwin were privileged to minister in several work and witness trips in foreign countries such as Ecuador. Using her letter writing skills, she wrote regularly to missionaries to lift their spirits. Her Sunday School class was also important to Grace and she and Derwin attended regularly.
Grace was preceded in death by her parents, Albert L. and Anna Elizabeth Hague Miller, her brother Stanley Keith Miller, and sister Thelma June Miller Herman.
Her husband, Mr. Derwin Tunks, survives her, as well as their numerous nieces and nephews and many great and great-great nieces and nephews, in addition to cousins Shirley Eberly, Vicky Bryant, and Connie Anderson. She and her stories will be missed.
Memorials may be made to Westside Church of the Nazarene, 1700 W Santa Fe St, Olathe KS 66061.