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Obituary for Dolores Mary Gibson-Kunka, ‘Dee’

January 30, 1934 – July 24, 2023

Dolores Mary Gibson-Kunka (née Heck), “Dee”, age 89, passed away peacefully on Monday evening, July 24, 2023, at Aurora Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. Dolores was born in Racine on Jan. 30, 1934, the daughter of the late Clarence and Frances (née Pier) Heck.

Dolores “Dee” Mary Gibson-Kunka
Dolores “Dee” Mary Gibson-Kunka

Dee, as she was affectionately known by family and friends, graduated from St. Catherine’s High School, “Class of 1952,” and earned her teaching degree from Dominican College. A great athlete, Dee played second base and pitched for the Racine Belles baseball team in their last years of existence.

On Sept. 7, 1955, Dee was united in marriage to John “Jack” R. Gibson. They raised four children, Kathleen, John, James and Rebecca, and shared 37 wonderful years together before Jack preceded her in death in 1992. Dee was fortunate to find love again and married Bernard “Bernie” Kunka on Feb. 27, 1999.

Dee taught at Sacred Heart Grade School for three years and then was employed with Racine Unified for 30 years. She was a member of St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church and the 5th Street Yacht Club Ladies Auxiliary where she served as secretary and board member. In her spare time, Dee enjoyed playing bridge, her flower garden, her gourmet cooking club, cheering on the Brewers and Packers, her many travels around the world, and her winters in Marathon, spending time on their boats, the “Dee-Light” and “Prospector.” Above all, Dee will be best remembered for her great love and devotion to her family.

Dee will be dearly missed by her husband of 24 years, Bernie; her children, Kathleen Martin, John Gibson Jr., James (Carol) Gibson, and Rebecca (Kevin) Christensen; grandchildren, Matthew (Karie) Martin, Patrick (Michelle) Martin, Rachael Gibson, Sam Christensen, and Sara (Luke) Sebald; great-grandchildren, Kaden Nygren, Ella Martin Levi and Louis Sebald; siblings, Shirley Heck, Mary Kay (David) Hansen, and Donna Benedict; sisters-in-law, Cel Heck, Lorraine Heck and Mary Heck; her extended Kunka family: sons, Bill Kunka, Mike Kunka, and Jim Kunka (Denise Schoening); daughter, Ellen (Mike) Panozzo; grandchildren, Kate (Chris) Simonds and James (Stephanie) Kunka; great-grandchildren, Nathan and Rhiannon Kunka; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

In addition to her parents, and husband, John, Dee was also preceded in death by her brothers, Richard, Lawrence, Robert, Clarence “Junior”, and Eugene; sister, Marjorie Johnson; son-in-law, James Martin; and her great-granddaughter, Penelope Martin.


A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, at St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church, 1903 Green St., with Rev. Steve Varghese officiating. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Highway 32. Relatives and friends may meet with the family at the church on Tuesday from 10 until 10:45 a.m. Memorials to St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church have been suggested.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.

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