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Marie Ellen Owens Kunlo

Marie Ellen Owens Kunlo, 81, of King George County passed away peacefully in her home on Friday, July 19, 2013.

She was born on Sept. 17, 1931, in Washington, D.C. She graduated from St. Cecelia's Academy in 1949 and from Towson University in 1953, where she received a Bachelor of Science in education. She received her special education teaching certification from the University of Virginia.

Marie married John D. (Jack) Kunlo almost 60 years ago on Aug. 22, 1953. They had five wonderful children, Anne Marie Scully (Edward "EJ" Rowland), Barbara Jeanne "BJ" DeJarnette (William), Kathleen Louise "Katie" Dellinger (Robert), Joseph Patrick Kunlo (Lucia) and Mary Ellen Cole (Kenneth Randall "Randy"); nine grandchildren, John Daniel, William Dean and Richard Anthony DeJarnette, Rachael Marie (Kunlo) McDermott, Robert Driver and Victoria Crayton Kunlo and Ryan Calhoun, Brenden James and Travis Randall Cole; and one great-grandson, Landon Joseph McDermott. She is also survived by her sister, Therese Henderson (George) from Gadsden, Ala. She was predeceased by her parents, Patrick James Owens and Emma Justice Owens; and a brother, Joseph Patrick Owens.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons; honorary pallbearers will be Ronald Branscome and Woody Van Valkenburgh.

Marie's entire life was spent devoted to her family, church and community. She played the organ and taught CCD at the Sacred Heart Chapel at the NSWC, Dahlgren (formerly Naval Proving Grounds) and later, at St. Anthony's Church in King George. With her husband Jack, she co-chaired the church's social concerns committee, the SHARE Program and the current Outreach for the Needy Program.

The family moved into their current home in King George in 1968, where Marie began teaching special education. She ultimately chaired the county's special education department during its formative years. She introduced Special Olympics to this area in 1971, when she became the Area XI coordinator for King George, Caroline, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford, a position she held until 1987. She took the special education athletes all over Virginia and the United States to participate in state and national games. Because of Marie's efforts, the Kunlo family was honored as Virginia Special Olympics Family of the Year in 1983. Her continued volunteer activities with Special Olympics culminated with Marie and her family being honored, in 1984 by first lady Nancy Reagan at the White House as one of the ten great American families in the USA.

Marie assisted in the formation of the Fredericksburg Area Food Relief Clearinghouse (now the Fredericksburg Food Bank), and became its first director in 1982.

She represented King George on the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) for some 20 years, chaired  numerous committees during that time and served as board chairperson from 1992 to 1994. In 1988 Marie received RACSB's Mental Health Distinguished Service Award for outstanding volunteer service to the community. Marie served on the board of directors of the Rappahannock Rehabilitation Facility for many years and was instrumental in it becoming part of the current Rappahannock Goodwill Industries (RGI), of which she was board chairperson from 1991 to 1994.

In 2005, she received the Fredericksburg Jaycees' Herbie Embrey Community Service Award for outstanding dedication to service to the greater Fredericksburg area. She was an active member and former president of the King George Woman's Club.

Marie loved to travel. Since their respective retirements in 1990, she and Jack have taken numerous trips and cruises both within the U.S. and overseas. A highlight was a family cruise taken with their children, their spouses and grandchildren, 19 in all, in 2002.

Marie's pride in her community and civic leadership enhanced the quality of life of everyone around her. One could not help but be the recipient of her inner strength and goodness, as helping others was second nature to her. Her passing is a tremendous loss to everyone but we can take solace knowing she will continue to help us from above.

A rosary service will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23, followed by a visitation until 8 p.m. at Nash and Slaw Funeral Home, King George. A Mass of celebration of her life will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24, at St. Anthony's Catholic Church, King George. Interment will follow in the church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to RACSB, 600 Jackson St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401, or to RGI at fredgood will.org/donate or to the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Dept. 0734, Washington, D.C. 20073.

Please sign the online guest book at www.nashandslawfh.com

 

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