David Wunker

Date of Birth

February 5th, 1953

Date of Death

July 2nd, 2014

Memorial Meeting

Santa Fe Monthly Meeting


David Edward Wunker, born on February 5, 1953, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and died July 2, 2014 in Santa Fe, NM.  A graduate of Earlham and attender at Santa Fe Monthly Meeting, Dave was a seeker and adventurer all his life.

Dave spent the first ten years of his life on 100 acres of farm, lake, and woodlands in southwestern Ohio.  He loved exploring and being in nature – a passion that remained with him for the rest of his life, along with his passion for reading and learning.  When Dave was ten, his family moved to Albuquerque, NM.  The sudden move from the woods of Ohio to the hot, dry environment of New Mexico at first stymied Dave, but he spent a lot of his free time outdoors and became familiar with the trails of the Sandia Mountains.  He graduated from Sandia High School in three years in 1970.

As a young adult he became involved in a Christian church and worked during the summer with two other church friends.   The suicide of one of these friends shook his faith to the core.  He spent subsequent decades exploring a wide variety of different spiritual paths:  Tibetan Buddhism, Vipassana Buddhism; the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-Realization Fellowship); the Quaker faith; and many Christian churches.  However, he never firmly embraced any of these paths, until the last months of his life when he found himself once again embracing the Christianity of his youth.

Dave was full of curiosity and immersed himself in many fields of study.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and history from the University of New Mexico in 1977, a masters in geography from Rutgers University in 1979, a Master of Arts in counseling from UNM in 1992, and a Masters in Divinity from Earlham School of Religion in 2011.  He also received certifications in many fields, e.g., CPR, Wilderness First Responder, Certified Interpretive Guide, Wind Turbine Technician, Commercial Trucker, and Master Gardener.

Dave’s ever-questing spirit brought him into many career paths, including construction, office administration, properties caretaking, counseling, working for the National Park Service and the US Forest Service, analyzing astronomical data for the Very Large Array near Socorro, NM and working as an air quality specialist for the New Mexico Environment Department.

Dave was an avid mountaineer and hiker.  Over his lifetime, he climbed all of the 69 “fourteeners” in the contiguous United States; Denali (also called Mt. McKinley) in Alaska; three mountains in Mexico over 17,000 feet; and Mt. Aconcagua (22,800 ft.) in Argentina, the highest  mountain in the Americas.  He loved Long’s Peak in Colorado and climbed it several times.

Dave’s connection with Santa Fe Friends Meeting deepened in 2012 and 2013, when he became Resident Friend and Caretaker.  Many of the brick paths, the plantings in the garden, and structural improvements both within the building and on the property bear testimony to his careful and skilled work.  During this period he also served as recording clerk for the meeting.

Although he had several eye surgeries over the past year and a half, he seemed to be in great overall health in the months before his death.  Thus, it was a shock when Dave passed away in his sleep on July 2, 2014, in Santa Fe, NM.

Dave was predeceased by his parents, Remmert and Helen (Vogel) Wunker of Mason, Ohio; his sister, Lois Wunker Class; and his brother, Daniel R. Wunker.   Dave is survived by his sister, E. Susanna Wunker Keller and his brother-in-law James A. Keller of Aurora, Colorado; a sister-in-law, Nancy J. Wunker, of Barstow, California; and numerous nieces and nephews in New Mexico, Colorado, and elsewhere.   He will be missed by the many friends and acquaintances who knew and valued Dave’s thoughtfulness, intelligence, and quiet kindness.