Cover photo for Dr. William P. Tunell's Obituary
Dr. William P. Tunell Profile Photo

Dr. William P. Tunell

November 26, 1933 — March 3, 2021

Dr. William P. Tunell

Dr. William Patrick (Bill) Tunell, beloved father, grandfather, and distinguished pediatric surgeon, passed away peacefully on March 3, 2021 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bill was born on November 26, 1933 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Alice Fitzpatrick Tunell and William Harold Tunell. He spent his childhood in Sioux Falls before moving with his family to Stockton, California. He attended his final year of high school at the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, graduating in 1951. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in 1955, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University Medical College in Manhattan in 1959. Bill met Barbara Jean Kelsey while he was a surgical resident at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and they married on February 13, 1965. Bill went on to complete an additional residency in Thoracic Surgery at George Washington University in 1966, and was the Chief Resident in Pediatric Surgery at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. from 1966 to 1968. From 1968 to 1970, Bill served in Vietnam as a surgeon with the Army Medical Corps, stationed at Long Binh and also with the 8th Field Hospital in Nha Trang. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Bronze Star. Bill and Barbara had two children, Maureen and William (Bill) Jr. The family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Bill worked at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. In 1976, they moved to Oklahoma City, and Bill joined the Department of Surgery at Oklahoma Children's Hospital, also serving as Professor of Surgery at the University of Oklahoma Medical School. Bill served in this capacity from 1976 until his retirement in 1998, and was Chief of Pediatric Surgery from 1986 to 1995. Dr. Tunell's legacy includes teaching general surgery to nearly all of OU's medical school graduates for over 20 years and saving the lives of thousands of children throughout Oklahoma.Bill loved to travel and he and Barbara travelled throughout the US and the world. He continued to travel even after Barbara passed away in 1994. Bill was constantly reading. He loved reading books, newspapers, and atlases. He was particularly interested in World War II history, the regional culture of South Dakota and Hawaii, and 1940's radio. Bill and his dear friend Thalia Eddleman enjoyed attending musicals, the OKC Philharmonic, and art exhibits. He loved spending time with his grandchildren, Sarah, Grace, and Daniel and attended more games, scouting events, and dance recitals than he probably could count.Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, and his parents. He is survived by his daughter Maureen Tunell Clerkin of Dallas, Texas, his son, William Patrick Tunell, Jr. of Oklahoma City, grandchildren Sarah Clerkin, Grace Clerkin, and Daniel Tunell, and his dear friend Thalia Eddleman of Oklahoma City.Visitation will be held from 5-7 pm on Wednesday, March 10 at Smith and Kernke Funeral Home (N. May), 14624 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, 73134.Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 am on Thursday, March 11 at Christ the King Catholic Church, 8005 Dorset Drive, Oklahoma City, 73120.
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Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Christ the King Catholic Church

1401 NW 23rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106

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