MADISON—On August 11, 2019, Robert Anthony “Max” Dunn officially departed for paradise with the gracious assistance of Agrace Hospice so he could be reunited with his bride, Mary Jeanne. In the spirit of his Irish wit, Max would have said “the rumors of my passing, in this case, are not greatly exaggerated.” Given his wonderful sense of humor and natural talent for entertaining, he was asked to serve as the master of ceremonies at the annual Edgefest Follies, from 1973—1979.
Born in Madison in 1924, Max was a lifelong Madison resident, devout Catholic, loving father and grandfather, loyal friend and devoted Badger football fan. He grew up on Randall Avenue, attended St. James Catholic grade school, West High School and the University of Wisconsin. In 1942, during Max’s senior year as a pole vaulter on West High School’s track team, they took the state championship, following a 30-year losing streak. In one of the events, urban legend has it that as Max approached the crossbar his bamboo pole broke. Standing near the pole vaulting pit was Max’s mother who screamed and fainted. The eldest son of James and Vivian (Felton) Dunn, Max was preceded in death by siblings, Rosemary, Frances and James. Max is survived by his children; their spouses; and his grandchildren; as well as his niece, Jeanne Petry (Gregg) Jones.
Beginning in the late 1940s, Max did an eight-year stint in Chicago working in the clothing business for Hart Schaffner Marx, where he developed his excellent taste in clothing and an affinity for Scottish tartan plaids. Pendleton was a treasured fashion on Chamberlain Avenue. Max returned to Madison and married Mary Jeanne Jackson in 1953, at St. Raphael’s Cathedral followed by a reception at the Edgewater Hotel. In later years, Max took great interest and pride in his son’s acquisition and redevelopment of this landmark hotel.
Mary Jeanne preceded Max in death in 1986. Together they raised four children, Colleen (Michael) Dubin, Judy (Bob) Buckley, Sarah Dunn and Bob (Julie) Dunn. Max was blessed with eight grandchildren who brought him tremendous joy and pride, Kelly Buckley, Sally Carpenter, Bob Dunn, Cate Carpenter, Jack Dunn, Harry Carpenter, Anna Dunn and Molly Dunn. “Gramps” was actively involved in his grandchildren’s lives, rarely missing a sporting event, school performance, dance recital, never missed a birthday cake, and was always readily available to babysit and transport them to various activities. Gramps was a lot of fun.
Max established the design and build firm Facilities Construction Management (FCM) primarily focused on the development and construction of medical facilities throughout Wisconsin. He and his lifelong friend, Bob O’Malley, also went on to develop Highlands Abbey Condominiums located on Old Sauk Road in Madison. A majority of Max’s career was focused on the real estate development and construction business.
He was a lifelong member of the Madison Club and held Badger football season tickets near the 50 yard line for over 50 years. He and Mary Jeanne never missed a home game and hosted many post game parties at their Chamberlain Avenue home. In his earlier years, Max performed in Madison Theater Guild plays and his home was frequently filled with music from popular Broadway musicals.
An excellent downhill skier, Max taught each of his children to ski when they turned four years old. That led to annual trips for close to 25 years to Indianhead Mountain with close family friends, the Corcorans and the Hopkins. His other passion was sailing. He spent many summers sailing in races on Lake Mendota and Lake Michigan, and in retirement sailed throughout the Caribbean while living on his boat in Sarasota, Fla. He was also known to escape to his favorite Wisconsin retreat, the Red Crown Lodge, located on Trout Lake in Arbor Vitae.
Max was skilled at organizing social events to include the monthly Blessed Sacrament Parish theme parties in the 1960s, under the direction of Father Andrew Geary, high school class reunions, and the semi-monthly “Romeo” luncheons held at Jingles, Alt’n Bach’s and Blackhawk Country Club. Famous for his nicknames, often in attendance were longtime friends, Bob “Odd Jobs” Connors, Romie “Vermin” Vetter, “Uncle Lawrence” Lumina, Dr. Charlie “Charles” Larkin, John “Moe” Ryan, William “Jingles” O’Brien, Bob “RC” O’Malley, Tim “Heavy Shoes” Sherry, “Father” Tim Reilley and younger recruits Mike Shea, Jeff Supple.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:45 p.m., Saturday, August 24, 2019, at ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, 404 E. Main St., Madison, with Father Eric Nielsen presiding. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the Mass at the church. In traditional Irish fashion and to honor Max, following the funeral on August 24, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., the family is hosting the “Waking Max Dunn” social gathering at the Edgewater Hotel. The family would appreciate that those in attendance wear their favorite tartan plaid.
The Dunn family would like to thank the compassionate healthcare professionals at Agrace Hospice who took excellent care of Max in his final days. Donations may be sent to Agrace Hospice at www.agrace.org. The family would also like to thank Max’s close friend Dr. Lou “Louis” Bernhardt for his unwavering support, kindness, and friendship.
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