My Mentor’s Mentor’s Mentor

Today is the 77th anniversary of Doug Kunkel’s birth. I was reminded of that by a good friend who also was mentored by Doug.

For years I worked for Doug, and he was a significant mentor in my life. Doug passed away in 2012. You can see more about his life here on Family Search, a free genealogical service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 2005, he was serving as Bishop, the local pastor, a volunteer position in the Church. When traveling together for work, we were able to catch up on things not having been together consistently for a number of years. This week I came upon this journal entry, and decided it needed to be recorded to honor the man he was named for.

_______________________________

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 07:37 PM Buffalo, New York

Doug’s Name Sake

As I was saying about Doug above, we sat down for a minute yesterday just to chat. [My partner and co-worker] and I agreed that we should look for someone to be a back-up to Doug [who was a critical technical resource for the work we were doing]. That is one of the last problems I think we have in putting this business on a more sure foundation. Doug said that would be fine. Doug said he planned to continue to work full time for another 5 to 6 years, but if he could go half-time he might work into his seventies.

He paused for a moment and said, “But I could sure be a bishop full-time.” He meant there is enough work there to do. I said it was wonderful how the Lord had created this earth with so many options for doing good, all the time. He chuckled and said yes…

I shared with him what has gone on with [a young man] over the last few months, the research paper, and the talk about scouting. I told him about my walk down the street here in Buffalo on Monday morning and the rapture I felt at having helped him do well and feel good.

Doug then shared with me that his grandparents were from Germany, and immigrated to Utah. They were poor, and were not treated too well because of feelings about WWI. His father [Robert Kunkel] was a boy, and disliked being poor and the stigma of the German background. A local man took him under his wing, gave him a job on the farm, and was his scout master. He made all the difference in the world. Then Doug got teary-eyed and said, “And his name was Douglas Cutler: I was named after him. My father went on to college, got his Ph.D. in agriculture, and was somewhat of a self-made man. But he couldn’t have done it without Doug Cutler.”

It touched me.

_______________________________

I searched for a moment this week to try to find Douglas Cutler on Family Search, and then contacted Doug’s widow asking if she knew anything, saying this Douglas Cutler seemed to close to Robert’s age (born in 1912) to be his scout master. She responded with:

_______________________________

“Doug Cutler is most likely the man you have found. I met him once and was so surprised to find he was only a few years older than my father in law [Robert]! Doug’s father occasionally talked about his plans to speak at Doug Cutler’s funeral. After I met Doug I commented, to my Doug, that given their ages Doug Cutler could be speaking at Robert’s funeral.

“The reverence held for his name because of the life changing contributions he made in Robert’s life some how evoked the image of a fatherly or grandfatherly figure. The reverence Robert held for him was the same reverence one holds for a father even though they were almost peers.

“Doug Cutler was also his priesthood teacher and when Robert was unruly during class he was called to sit at Doug’s side. I believe Doug also had Robert come to his home often and to do work for him.

“His wife’s name is Leona. I suspect they must have been close to newlyweds at the time Douglas was shepherding Robert.

“As a legacy, from Doug Cutler’s example, Robert spent a life time searching out people for whom he could give the same life changing service that Doug had given him. During the time I knew him Robert mentored, opened his/their home and gave significant opportunity to at least 3 people. At least for one of those three her life was changed in a magnificent manner. And she in turn opens her heart and arms to others.”

______________________________

Doug Kunkel’s goodness and mentoring has had a significant effect upon me. One day, perhaps 4 or more years before the journal entry above as I worked on a short-term project in Texas, I called Doug at his home to give him an update on what was going on. I might have said something like, “I’m not sure you’re interested in this,” to which he responded, “I’m always interested in hearing about the good work you do.” Nearly twenty years later those encouraging words ring in my ears.

So, it seems to me there is a good chance those words, or something like them, might have been said by Douglas Cutler to Robert Kunkel, who used them in raising his son, Douglas Kunkel, who then said them to me. And I have striven to say them to scores of others in my work with youth and my employment.

I’m glad to have read more about Douglas Culter’s life, and have a sense of the tremendous legacy he seems to have left, and his quiet impact in the world–an impact that has very likely affected me, and one can imagine hundreds of others similarly.

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