11/4/1961 - 11/6/2008
On Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, a child of the Lord went home for a long-awaited rest. Brian Russell Kunn, age 47, went on to a heavenly home, away from the pain and struggle of his war with cancer. Ever the fighter, his valiant stand is over.
Brian came into this life a fighter, born Nov. 4, 1961, two months premature and with a heart defect, he began slaying the dragons of life. Told by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester that his heart would never allow him to be active, he fought on proving himself a worthy athlete with the Billings Scarlets as a Third Baseman in American Legion Baseball. Brian joined the team as a lean, blond eighth-grader and continued to show tremendous stamina through his senior year at Billings West High School, graduating in 1980. In the meantime, he also proved to be a determined hunter, fisherman and golfer in a family devoted to the outdoors, a joy he shared with his friends and family.
American Legion Baseball continued to play a significant role in Brian's life while attending the University of Montana, Missoula … Brian became the Head Coach of the Missoula Mavericks. With the help of friend and assistant coach, Rande Muffick of Helena, he took the Mavericks to their first State Championship in 40 years, a huge win for Missoula fans and friends. After graduating from the University in 1988, Brian was recruited by the Legion team in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, with a very enticing and rewarding offer, but Brian turned them down, choosing to use the sales skills he acquired when working for his dad, Earl, at Sportsman's Supply Incorporated. These skills paid off in Brian's nearly 20-year career with NAPA/ Genuine Parts Company, a career that began with a phone call from former Scarlet, and life-long friend, Jim Krivec.
Legion baseball played a role again, when in 1994, former coach Rande Muffick came to Billings to visit Brian, and found a girlfriend. After being Rande's chauffer a few times, Brian insisted that Rande get his girl to set him up with a date … eventually introducing Brian to Mary Maltby, formerly of Helena, and the same church as Rande back in Helena. The blind double date was as awkward as could be, but time marched on and led Brian and Mary to the altar, where they married on Aug. 19, 1995.
Fatherhood became a new challenge when son Brady was born in 1998, followed 15 months later by another son, Gavin, on New Years Eve, 1999. Shortly after Gavin's birth, the family moved to Denver when Brian was promoted and transferred to the NAPA/GPC Western Group Office. During his stint in Denver, Brian finally finished fighting the dragon that he was born with, having the VSD heart defect repaired successfully. A more imposing dragon came into view on August 2007, when Brian was diagnosed with metastatic adenocarcinoma. Once again, Brian put on his armor, and promised to fight, and fight he did. He will be missed, but ever-loved, respected and remembered.
Brian was preceded in death by his mother, Elizabeth T. Kunn, his aunt and uncles and grandparents. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and sons Brady and Gavin; his father, Earl R. Kunn of Billings; brothers Mike (Candace) of Hope, Maine, Scott of Billings and Gary (Melodi) of Midlothian, Texas; and numerous cousins. He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Madason, Myckenzee, Jennifer, Mikey, Thomas, Cody, Lilly, Katie, Adrienne and Jamie; and two great-nieces.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, the Scarlets and Mavericks Am. Legion Ball Clubs, or the Billings Boys and Girls Club.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 2420 13th St. West, Billings, MT 59102. A reception will be held following the service at the Yellowstone Country Club, 5707 Bobby Jones Blvd., Billings.
Michelotti-Sawyers is charge of arrangements and condolences may be left for the family at www.michelottisawyers.com.