As news of the death of former state representative Dewayne Bunch spread across the state, the condolences for his family rolled in from state and local leaders.
Bunch, 50, fell into a table and against the cafeteria floor at Whitley County High School, where he was a math teacher, while attempting to break up a fight between two students on April 12, 2011. Bunch was hospitalized, then sent to a rehabilitation facility in Lexington before his transfer to an Atlanta facility.
Bunch, a Republican, had just launched his term as state representative for the 82nd District, which includes all of Whitley County and the four Laurel precincts of Keavy, Level Green, Spring Cut and South Laurel, in January 2011. During that time, he sponsored a bill in support of veterans. He resigned his position in the Kentucky House in late summer following his accident. His wife, Regina, was elected to fill his seat. She ran unopposed in a special election held earlier this year.
Local leaders were saddened by the news of Bunch’s death, with many expressing their condolences to the family.
Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield said he sent his deepest condolences to the Bunch family, although he did not have opportunity to meet Dewayne Bunch. He did say he had met Regina Bunch and was impressed with her enthusiasm to continue her husband’s mission in state government.
Representative Marie Rader, a Republican who serves the 89th District that includes all of Jackson and Owsley County and 21 Laurel County precincts that run from East Bernstadt to Bush and into London city limits, said Bunch’s death was a “sad case.”
“My heart goes out to Regina. I served with him (Dewayne) what time he was able and I found him to be a very conscientious man who was very concerned about his district,” Rader said. “He was a quiet man, very thoughtful and sensible and I felt he had a great future in the legislature.”
Rader added that Dewayne Bunch was a man who served his country in Iraq, served his community as a teacher, and his state as a legislator. In fact, during his 20 years in the National Guard, Bunch earned the rank of First Sergeant and received several honors.
He had taught math at Whitley County High School for 17 years.
“I feel so sorry for Regina,” Rader added. “He (Dewayne) was a young man with so much potential. My heart goes out to her and the family.”
State Senator Tom Jensen described Bunch’s death as “an absolute shame.”
“My prayers go out to the family in this situation,” Jensen said. “Who would have ever thought that breaking up a fight between two students where he was a teacher could ever lead to something like this? I’m sure the two boys who were fighting never dreamed something like this would ever happen.”
Jensen said he worked with Bunch during Bunch’s brief time in the state House of Representatives and was impressed with his concern and dedication to his district.
A statement from the House Republican Party Leadership honored Bunch by saying: “Dewayne truly represented someone who is committed to serving the public, whether it be as a school teacher, a member of the armed services, his church, and his neighbors. It was that caring commitment and dedication to the people of Whitley County that prompted him to run and win election as State Representative.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Regina, her family and all those who knew and loved Dewayne as they deal with his passing. The family has requested privacy during these difficult times, and, when the memorial arrangements have been completed, they will be made available to the public and press.”
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement Wednesday after hearing of Bunch’s death:
“I am saddened by the loss of former Representative Dewayne Bunch. As a teacher and state representative, Dewayne served the people of the Commonwealth, especially those in Whitley and Laurel counties, with distinction. He also proudly served our country in Iraq as a member of the Kentucky National Guard. Elaine and I send our condolences to his wife, Regina, his family, and all those at Whitley County High School that knew and loved him.”