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Donald Louis Gunnell

December 7, 1930 ~ January 14, 2018 (age 87)

Donald L. Gunnell, 87, of Carterville, passed away Sunday, January 14, 2018, at Herrin Hospital.

He was born December 7, 1930, in Chicago, to Benjamin and Julia (Sorenson) Gunnell. Don married Barbara Jean Marsh on February 25, 1950, in Chicago.  

Don is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Barbara Gunnell; children, Kathy Gunnell (Chris Goode), Dona Howell (Larry Howell) and Dan Gunnell (Maureen Birmingham); grandchildren, Becky Howell (Adam Berry), Mathew Howell (Gidion Small), Claire and Laure Gunnell-Goode, and Conor Gunnell.

He was preceded in death by his parents and older brothers, Benjamin and Patrick.

He was a proud veteran of the United States Air Force.

Don was a 2nd generation Chicago Police Officer, joining the Department in 1955, retiring in 1984. He walked the beat in the Austin District, was on the Task Force, a motorcycle division that was predecessor to the modern day Tactical Units, the Marine & Police Scuba Diving Unit and in 1960 was assigned to the Crime Laboratory.  From 1960 to 1972, Don served in the Mobile Unit as a Crime Scene Investigator.  He handled well over 1000 homicides and worked on such notorious cases as the Speck Case, the Pera and  Scwander Case, one of the first instances of bio-terrorism in the US, and many of the Organized Crime assassinations of the 60’s.  From 1968 through 1972, Don was the Chief Training Officer for the Mobile Unit.  He trained over 200 officers, from all over the world, in death investigation.  In 1972, Don was assigned to the Firearms Identification Unit where he continued to excel in his profession.  He was a Distinguished Member of the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Identification (AFTE) and assisted in the development of the AFTE Glossary, the first scientific dictionary of specific terms utilized within the discipline.

Upon his retirement from the Chicago Police Department, Don began his second career with the Illinois State Police.  He was responsible for setting up and opening the Firearms Identification Section in the new Southern Illinois Forensic Science Center located in Carbondale.  Don was involved in many of the major cases in Southern Illinois from 1986 till his retirement from the State Police in 1995.  

Even after his retirement from the Illinois State Police, Don remained active in Law Enforcement.  He served as an Auxiliary Police Officer and Training Officer for the Carterville Police Department; a contractual Forensic Firearms Examiner for the Northern Illinois Regional Police Laboratory; and as recently as last year a member of the Williamson County Cold Case Squad.

Don was known throughout Illinois, the nation and internationally as a devoted, hard working, professional whose passion for law enforcement and justice moved him to train and mentor hundreds in the fields of police work and forensic science.  He was a faithful husband, an exciting father, and a loving grandfather.  He will be missed by many.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, January 20, 2018, at Riggin-Pillatsch & Burke Funeral Home in Carterville. Entombment will be at Egyptian Memorial Gardens in Energy with law enforcement and military honors. Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m., Friday, January 19, at the funeral home, with a Law Enforcement Walk at 6:00 p.m. There will be a luncheon after the interment at the New Horizons General Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Marion, Illinois.

Memorial donations are the preferred form of remembrance and may be made to the Shawnee Branch of the Illinois Police Association, Post Office Box 305, Marion, Illinois 62959.  Attention Bill Marks – IPA President.


Donations may be made to:

Illinois Police Association-Shawnee Division
PO Box 305, Marion IL 62959

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