News

Longtime UA College of Medicine - Tucson Faculty Member, Dr. James C. Dunn, Dies

Thursday, September 5, 2019

James Clarence Dunn, Sr., MD, a longtime faculty member at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Dr. Dunn was 90 years old.

Dr. Dunn was a faculty member at the College of Medicine – Tucson for more than 35 years until his retirement in 2015. He joined the college in 1978 as an adjunct professor of gross anatomy. As a general surgeon, he also taught medical students basic surgical skills and served as a lecturer in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

In addition to teaching in the gross anatomy laboratory, Dr. Dunn taught a popular surgical enrichment elective offered to first-year medical students in which they were allowed to observe various surgeries at hospitals across the city. 

Carol Gregorio, PhD, chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, recalls Dr. Dunn’s kindness and passion for medical education. 

“Dr. Dunn was one of the friendliest and most optimistic people I have ever met,” Dr. Gregorio said. “His deep compassion for our medical students and his commitment to their success was unmistakable. He frequently used many hours of his own free time to train them.”

Kevin Moynahan, MD, alumnus and deputy dean for education at the College of Medicine – Tucson was in several of Dr. Dunn’s classes as a student. He said, “I recall Dr. Dunn as an excellent instructor of anatomy and a professor that truly cared about his students and the subjects he taught.”

Dr. Dunn was an active member of the Tucson community, devoting his spare time to holding free health fairs and prostate health clinics. For his generous devotion to improving health in the city, he received numerous awards from community organizations. In 2013, he was recognized by the Pima County Medical Foundation for exemplary lifetime achievement in the furtherance of medical education. When he was not treating patients or teaching, Dr. Dunn enjoyed playing his violin and competing with his children at tennis.

Dr. Dunn earned his medical degree at the State University of New York in Buffalo, N.Y. He went on to complete his residency in surgery at the Buffalo Veterans Administration Hospital prior to serving in the U.S. Army. 

Dr. Dunn is survived by his wife, Smithie E. Dunn; his sister, Irene Dunn Barker; his four children, James C. Dunn Jr., MD, Gina (William) Gardner, NP, Gregory Dunn and Guy Dunn; his two stepsons, Eugene Barrow and Brian Barrow; 13 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren, relatives and friends.

PLEASE NOTE: A mass and celebration of life for Dr. Dunn is scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 4. The service will be held at Most Holy Trinity Parish, 1300 N. Greasewood Rd., Tucson, AZ 85745. Donations in memory of Dr. Dunn may made to the Dunbar Foundation, 325 W. Second St., Tucson, AZ 85705.