A child of the depression, Clyde H. Gunn Jr. valued the simple pleasures of life: time with family, reading, his small-town surgical practice, steaks grilled to perfection and last but certainly not least, fishing.
He could have been a big-city surgeon, but Gunn turned down an offer in Atlanta so that he could return to Moss Point, where he loved his patients and they loved him.
He passed away Saturday in Pascagoula at age 88.
"He lived a pretty amazing life," said the youngest of his four children, daughter Gene Oswalt of South Carolina. "We're sad, but we're very blessed."
His only son, Biloxi attorney Clyde H. "Buddy" Gunn III, said his father highly valued education, encouraging his children and grandchildren to pursue higher degrees.
Clyde Gunn Jr. was the son of a Methodist minister, raised in small Mississippi towns where his father preached. Friendships formed through his father's work would shape Gunn's life.
In the mid-1930s, the Gunns lived in Shubuta, a speck on the map in East Central Mississippi. Gunn made a lifelong friend there named Wallace E. Calhoun Jr. They in turn met the town doctor Albert Hand, who took a liking to the boys. Gunn so admired Hand that he decided when he was eight years old that he wanted to be a doctor one day, as did Wallace Calhoun.
Both the Gunn and Calhoun families moved on from Shubuta. But it turned out both Gunn and Calhoun graduated from college and medical school the same years. The city of Moss Point welcomed the young men, who set up a general medical practice together for 10 years, beginning in 1953.
When Gunn's father was appointed to a Methodist church in Biloxi, the family was invited to the Corban home for dinner the very night the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. There, Gunn met his future wife, Pattie Corban. They played together in the Biloxi High School band and married after college.
Return to Moss Point
After 10 years in Moss Point, the Gunn family moved to Atlanta so that Gunn could complete his general surgery residency at Emory University Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital. He was offered a teaching and surgical position at Emory, but wanted to return to Moss Point, where the Gunn children graduated from high school.
Buddy Gunn recalled his father explaining: "Following significant consideration, I decided that I preferred to treat people I would also know as friends. In a large city, I would have been operating on people I would never see again. My 'Highway 63' practice in Jackson County has always been fulfilling, for my patients always appreciated my services."
Growing up, the Gunn children and their friends spent hours climbing the oak trees in the Gunn's yard. One of the old oaks became the subject of a painting by Robert Wells, who dubbed it The Gunn oak. Buddy Gunn estimates the landmark tree is at least 250 years old.
Clyde Gunn stayed busy with his medical practice, but felt it important to spend time with each of his children, whom he always tried to give equal attention. He also read "The Wall Street Journal" daily and enjoyed listening to all kinds of music, from opera to blue grass. His daughter Leigh Eley of Jackson shared his love of fine arts. She and her father enjoyed sharing art books and visiting museums together.
"He was a student of the arts, and a very astute reader with an incredible vocabulary," Buddy Gunn said. "A lot of times, you had to walk off and look up a word."
Why he retired
Fishing was a special passion that he had more time to enjoy when he retired at the age of 59. Clyde Gunn did not like the direction in which medicine was heading.
"He said he was not going to have an HMO or an insurance company tell him how to practice medicine," Buddy Gunn recalled. "He was reading about this in other parts of the country, and he was not going to be a part of insurance companies and the government telling him how to practice good medicine.
"He was able to retire from being frugal, and therefore chose to retire. But he loved his patients and they loved him up to this day."
After Pattie Corban Gunn passed away in 1992, the retired doctor fell in love with another Corban, his deceased wife's first cousin, Kathy.
They traveled to Europe and to Alaska on fishing expeditions.
His oldest daughter, Martha Gunn Tittle, had her children when Clyde and Pattie Gunn were still in their 40s. The doctor thought he was too young to be called Grandpa, so he taught his grandchildren to call him "Clyde," a name that stuck with all of them. His grandson Todd Tittle, national account business development manager with Winchester Ammunition, wrote a special remembrance:
"Clyde was my grandfather and my best friend. We spent nearly every summer fishing the swamps and tributaries of the Pascagoula River. He influenced the path of my life by sharing his passion for the outdoors and his encouragement to provide for those we love.
"When I was in college, he once asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I answered, 'I want to hunt and fish.' His response was, 'Todd, you can't make a living and provide for your family hunting and fishing.' Several years ago, on one of our last fishing excursions in the boat, he remembered that question and said, 'Well Todd, I guess you proved me wrong. You have made a pretty good living hunting and fishing!'
"Every time I called or visited, he loved to hear about my latest adventures. I will miss those conversations along with the 'lessons of Wall Street.' He was, and will continue to be, an inspiration in my life."