Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Gunner Gunnerud: 1930 ~ 2018


Harold Duane “Gunner” Gunnerud, a former resident of Three Rivers, died peacefully Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Visalia. He was 88.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at 11 a.m., at Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. Everyone is welcome to attend and share their Gunner stories. Lunch will immediately follow the service.
Gunner was born March 12, 1930, in Leeds, N.D., and adopted in December of the same year. The Gunnerud family who adopted Gunner were from Silva, N.D., a town with a population of 116. The family had two daughters, Lauri, 6, and Meg, 9 months.
In 1938, the family moved themselves and their house to Rugby, N.D. Gunner attended Rugby Elementary School and Rugby High School. He excelled in his studies and on the basketball court where he was no. 3 and played center.    
Gunner’s parents spent most winters in Phoenix to avoid the harsh North Dakota winters. Gunner loved hanging out in swimming pools in Tempe and Phoenix.      
Back in Rugby during spring, summer, and fall, he worked at his father’s lumberyard and as a ranch hand, moving and stacking hay bales during harvest.  
Gunner enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in June 1951 and served two years in Korea near the demilitarized zone. He was honorably discharged in June 1955 with the rank of staff sergeant.  
In November 1955, he left Rugby, N.D., for Phoenix where he eventually settled in the duplex that his parents and grandparents had formerly lived in during several winters. The couple next door introduced Gunner to his wife-to-be, Portia Niland.   
On March 23, 1957, Gunner and Portia were married. They moved from the duplex to an apartment, then soon bought a home of their own on Keim Drive in Phoenix. Their three eldest children were born in this home.    
Gunner worked for Pepsi Cola driving a large delivery truck that did not have air conditioning in the hot desert climate. This helped the couple in their decision to move to the cooler climate of California’s Bay Area. 
Gunner went to work at Wells Fargo Bank, where he was sent to Fresno for 18 months as an outside auto collector. Next, he was promoted into the loan adjustment department in San Jose.    
Gunner and Portia purchased a home on Mt. Forest Drive in the Almaden Valley area of San  Jose. Their fourth child was born in San Jose. 
Gunner served as the Wells Fargo representative to Allied Finance Adjusters for the next decade. In April 1991, when Gunner retired, the couple was once again on the move. 
The couple’s next home was on Meadow Drive in the Cherokee Oaks neighborhood of Three Rivers. While in Three Rivers, Gunner worked at Kaweah General  Store and enjoyed taking people from Three Rivers shopping and provided transportation for those who needed rides to doctor appointments and hospital visits. For 24 years, he threw newspapers onto porches in the Cherokee Oaks neighborhood.
In 2016, due to health concerns, Gunner and Portia left Three Rivers to reside in Reedley. The next move occurred in 2017, when Gunner moved into Delta Nursing and Rehabilitation in Visalia, which is where he had resided for the past 13 months. Portia currently lives at Walnut Park in Visalia.  
Gunner is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years, Portia Gunnerud of Visalia; four children, Ken Gunnerud of Three Rivers; Charles J. Gunnerud and wife Melinda of Visalia; Sandra Joanne Villamor and husband Craig of Orinda, Calif.; and David Lyle Gunnerud of Hawi, Hawaii; three grandchildren, Nicholas Gunnerud and wife Mercedes of Visalia, Sophia Villamor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and Lindsay Villamor of Orinda; and his two sisters, Lauri Hall of Denver, Colo., and Meg Bowman of San Jose.