In memory of
Howard Dungan August 2, 1920 - July 12, 2020 Spring Valley Howard Harrell Dungan Jr. of Spring Valley, descendent of Frances Latham who settled in Rhode Island by 1638 and known as "The Mother of Governors," former teacher and counselor with the San Diego Unified School District, passed away July 12, 2020, in Alvarado Hospital of complications of a pancreatic mass and congestive heart failure.Howard was born in Newark, Nebraska August 2, 1920, raised on the family homestead farm there, rode a pony to a one-room schoolhouse, did homework by kerosene lamp, drew water from an outdoor hand pump, and graduated from high school in Kearney, Nebraska where he lettered in sports and set pins in a bowling alley at night. He completed a semester of college in Kearney, picked apples in Colorado, was a carpenter's helper, worked with poultry, tried out fora farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals, and went hungry sometimes as it was the Great Depression. He later learned banking at an uncle's bank in Ilwako, Washington, and helped his parents move off the Nebraska farm in a packed car with little more than the change in their pockets and had to leave his beloved dog, Fritz, behind in the care of a tenant. By 1940 he joined his parents and other relatives in San Diego and did clerical work for Cadahy Packing Company.It was during a day trip to Tijuana when he and his high school sweetheart and future wife, Anita, learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After consideration of how best to support the American war effort and nearly enlisting in the Marine Corps, he instead joined the Army Air Forces. Training locations included, Santa Ana, California; Glendale, Arizona; Pecos, Texas; Douglas, Arizona; and Greenville, South Carolina as First Station. In the South andTexas he became more aware of deeper issues of racial inequality than he'd seen in Nebraska, where his family sometimes hosted a visiting African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister for lunch, and he strove to treat everyone fairly throughout his life. In the chapel on base in Pecos, Texas he married Anita Alene Sibbitt, an accomplished violinist who had graduated from what is now the University of Nebraska at Kearney and taught high school for a year in Yutan,Nebraska. She followed Howard around the country for much of his pilot training, working variously as a butcher's helper, nurse's aid, and store clerk.Howard was later stationed in Hawaii, flying North American B-25 Mitchells. While he was flying missions in B-25s as a First Lieutenant in the 7th Air Force, 41st Bombardment Group, 820th Bomb Squadron out of Okinawa over Japan and Japanese-occupied China, Anita had become a "Rosie the Riveter" and learned gas welding at Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego.After the war she resumed teaching and then guidance counseling, and completed her master's degree at what is now San Diego State University. Howard also completed his bachelor's degree there on the G.I. Bill, and later his master's degree. Both did post-graduate work at the University of Southern California.From 1948 to 1984 Howard was a teacher and guidance counselor in the San Diego Unified School District, with most of that time at Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School (now Roosevelt International Middle School) where he primarily taught geography, social studies, and history, sometimes with what was referred to as a "Mr. Dungan story." Years into retirement, he would still run into former students greeting him and saying, "Mr. Dungan, you told the dumbestjokes and stories!" Howard would ask which one; the former student would repeat it and the context, and then he would reply, "Ah, but you remembered!"Howard and Anita loved to play golf at the Tijuana Country Club and Balboa Park Golf Course, were once active in the Methodist Church in La Mesa, and had a custom home built in Spring Valley where they resided until they passed. They vacationed in Mexico City, and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada with a succession of travel trailers. These trips were later accompanied by their only child, Michelle Dungan, now a retired California Department of Transportation Associate Environmental Planner. After Anita passed in 2006,Howard eventually resumed travel in a Roadtrek motorhome, completing the last trip to Kearney, Nebraska by himself at age 97, where he was interviewed by the newspaper. Howard flew with Honor Flight to Washington D.C. and spoke to a 5th grade class in Carlsbad that had written letters to the veterans to read on the flight, befriended the teacher, and later attended the middle school graduation for the students. This was the subject of a local news story. Another story was about his flight on a B-25, his first since World War II. On a trip to Hawaii with aniece, he honored a relative killed on the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor, his first visit there after the war.Howard worked hard to live as independently as he could, frequented the zoo, read extensively, and watched televised sports until COVID-19 forced him to replace them with old television westerns and more classic movies. A rerun of the original "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" which featured B-25s like he flew was rarely missed, along with "Catch-22", which he said captured some of the absurdities of the war. He still drove well, shopped, and balanced his checkbookuntil a few weeks before he passed.Howard is survived by his daughter, Michelle Dungan and her wife, Veronica Zerrer; numerous nieces and nephews; friends and former students whose lives he touched; and the family dog, Jacqui, who recently saved him from a bad fall by warning Veronica that he had a leg cramp and was trapped on the steep slope next to a vertical embankment while weeding his yard.Both Howard and Anita supported good public education for everyone, and that would include a broad curriculum helping students understand history, society, and government so they can become good citizens. It must also provide a solid foundation for all students whether they aspire to vocational or to a college education. In lieu of flowers for services at Glen Abbey in Bonita and interment at Fort Rosecrans, please consider a contribution to Honor Flight, or your favorite charity or other group that could support the above educational goals.
View Full Obituary ›