Joe Dunham

Obituary for Joe Dunham

March 17, 1939 - April 13, 2019
Aurora, Illinois | Age 80


Joe Dunham, 80, of Aurora, passed away April 13, 2019. He was born March 17, 1939 in Springfield, MO, son of the late Austin and Elsie (Clay) Dunham.

He grew up in Nixa, MO where he had a paper route with his cousin, Jim Dunham. He enjoyed his motor scooter and was active in music and theatre in Nixa High School where he graduated in 1957. After high school, Joe went to Southwest Baptist College (now Southwest Baptist University) where he was active in music, student-led religious activities, and was voted "Most Humorous", receiving an Associate of Arts Degree in 1959.

Joe graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1961. His major was history, but he fell in love with his minor of philosophy. Although he thought his career path would lead to the pastoral ministry, his philosophy professor urged him to do some graduate work in philosophy before attending seminary (he never got to the seminary.) He received a Master of Arts in philosophy from Oklahoma University in 1963. Joe did some additional work in philosophy at Northwestern University before coming to Aurora College (now Aurora University) to teach part time in 1964 and then full time in 1965 as professor of religion and philosophy. He was the Senior Fellow for the Wackerlin Center from 2006 – 2010, when he retired.
While at Aurora University Joe was a popular professor. Among awards he received were the Marcus Trumbo Excellence in Teaching Award in 1979 and 2005 and the 1990 Alumni "Spirit" Award. Joe received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2007.

Although Joe's main profession was teaching philosophy, he remained active in the pastoral ministry, serving as Pastor at Bethel Community Baptist Church for more than 15 years and then as Assistant Minister at New England Congregational Church for 23 years until his official retirement this spring.

Joe is survived by his wife, Ida (Muskrat) Dunham of Aurora; his children, Melanie (Mark) Greenberg of Naperville, IL, Elizabeth (Gary) Slotnick of Champaign, IL, Phillip (fiance' Melissa Angio) Dunham of Chicago, IL and Richard (Mika Ogiwara) Dunham of Schaumburg, IL; daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Ang of Chicago, IL; his sister, Nancy (Jim) Shankle of Oxford, MS; grandchildren, Joshua Greenberg, Zachary Greenberg, Ben Greenberg, Austin Slotnick, Rachel Slotnick, Chieko Dunham, Isabella Dunham, Miranda Dunham and "extra" daughter, Faye (Steve Miller) Codding and their daughter, Ramsey Miller of Decatur, GA as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

Along with his parents, Joe was preceded in death by his granddaughter, Katherine Rebecca Greenberg.

Visitation will be held on Monday, April 22, 2019 from 2 PM - 8 PM at New England Congregational Church, 406 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora, IL 60506. Funeral services will be held at 11 AM on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to New England Congregational Church at or Aurora University at

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Healy Chapel

332 W Downer Pl
Aurora, IL 60506
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