Today, I pay tribute to an extraordinary man. This man was kind, gentle, and well-mannered. The man I am referring to is my grandfather, Thomas Dunn Jr., known to many of you as Deacon Dunn.

Thomas Dunn was born June 19, 1947. Twenty-four years later in 1971, he married my grandmother, Missionary Wanda Dunn.

My grandfather was a man of God with tremendous faith. He became a member of Sanctuary of Holiness when the doors opened in 1980. He served as Chairman of the deacon’s board, chairman of the trustee board, and a member of the brother’s circle. He also founded The Birthday Drive that we all participate in on the fourth Sunday of the month.

Thomas Dunn was a family man; a loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend. He would take my uncle, Lil Tom, and his friends, on neighborhood bike rides.

He also loved to travel, and would take family trips every year. My grandfather exposed his family to many wonderful places and made sure they stayed in the finest hotels.

He would go on evening car rides to personally unveil the latest development projects in communities throughout the city, sharing his thoughts about whether it would be successful or not, or to simply enjoy the holiday lights.

One of the highlights for him was dinner time with his family. He enjoyed fellowship with family and friends over a good dinner. There were many good, sociable times spent in my grandparent’s kitchen. This is where the family mingled and watched television. Anyone who cared to join was invited to pull up a chair around the kitchen table.

Thomas Dunn was extremely involved in his children’s education. A respected and active member of the Local School Council at Michelle Clark Middle School, people valued his membership and opinion.

In fact, the school was able to receive its first marquee, wondering where to erect it. My grandfather suggested they place it on the corner of Harrison and Laramie to be seen from the Eisenhower Expressway. The school followed his advice.

The marquee was finally placed there in April of 1996. The first message ever displayed on it was: In Loving Memory of Local School Council Member Thomas Dunn, 1947-1996. It was viewed throughout the community and as far as the Eisenhower Expressway.

My grandfather was a well-groomed, neat, sharp dresser. He was mild-mannered, had a great sense of humor, and enjoyed laughing. He was an excellent insurance man and could convince anyone of their need to have a policy.

Thomas Dunn knew how to appeal to people; he could make friends with anyone. He read a lot and was quite knowledgeable. For this reason, my grandfather was informative and always up to date.

He never complained, regardless of life’s situations. In his final days, he journeyed through his painful battle with cancer like a champ, and passed five months before my birth.

Although I never got the chance to meet my grandfather, he is a part of my life. I experience his presence with the stories I’m told. I benefit from many things he exposed my mother to because she does the same with my sister and me. The family speaks of his legacy to keep his memory alive.

So on this day, I pay tribute to a phenomenal man who proudly walked this earth and embraced life with excitement for 49 years from June 19, 1947 to April 30, 1996.

He’s gone, but never forgotten.

Malachi honored his grandfather on Aug. 30, during a Men’s Day program at Sanctuary of Holiness Church, 700 S. Pulaski.