David John Purner

March 4, 1920 ~ August 17, 2015

Born in: Mulberry, IN
Resided in: Mountain Home, TN

Another member of the "Greatest Generation" has taken his last Earthly breath. David John Purner passed into eternity at the James H. Quillen Veteran's Administration Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN, on Monday, August 17, 2015. He was a man of honor and dignity. He loved his God, his family, and his country. He was a patriot in every sense of the word. The grandson of a country doctor, he enjoyed talking about his boyhood years spent in Mulberry, Indiana, where he was born March 4, 1920. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he applied for Aviation Cadet training with the US Air Corps and became a navigator on a B-24 heavy bomber earning the rank of 1st Lieutenant. April 24, 1944 while on his sixteenth bombing mission, his plane was shot down over Berlin, Germany. Dave served honorably as a POW for thirteen months. In his retirement years, Dave shared his WWII and POW experiences with many classes in schools throughout East Tennessee as well as to service clubs and church groups. Dave worked for many years in retail and retired in 1984 as Superintendent of Postal Operations in Elizabethton, TN. He was a charter member of the East Tennessee Chapter American Ex-POW?s and served for ten years as adjutant/treasurer, then as Chapter Commander in 1995 and again in 2001. He was a life member of Disabled Veterans of America, a life member of the 392nd Bomb Group Association and a member of Post 24 American Legion. For many years he was a regularly scheduled volunteer at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center. In 1993 he was finance chairman of the National Veterans? Golden Age Games held at the VA. In 2003 he was appointed by the VA Regional Director to serve as the State of Tennessee Consumer Representative on the VA Regional Management Assistance Council. He also served on the planning committee for the 1903-2003 Centennial exercises to commemorate Mtn. Home's 100 years of service to our veterans. He served on the Board of Governors of the Carroll Reece Museum, the Tipton/Haynes Historical Society, and the Metropolitan Kiwanis Club. He was a fifty-five year member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church where he served on the Administrative Board and taught the Fellowship Sunday School Class. Dave was preceded in death by the love of his life, his wife of 72 years, Martha Louise Cooper Purner; his father, Sherman Walter Purner; his mother, Bessie Mable Bonham Purner; and his brother, Russell Jay Purner. He is survived by: his sons, J. Franklin Purner, wife Judy, of Kingsport, TN, and Dr. David William Purner, wife Laura, of Athens, Alabama; grandchildren, Margaret Douthat and husband David, Shannon Fortune and husband Brian, Melissa Dixon and husband Tom, Chris Purner and wife Recca, Walton Purner and William Purner, Adam Williams and wife Glenda; twelve grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and nephews, James Purner and John Purner. In lieu of flowers please make donations to Munsey Memorial Methodist Church, Colonial Heights United Methodist Church, or to Disabled Veterans of America, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250. The family of David John Purner will receive friends from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 19, 2015, at Morris-Baker Funeral Home, Johnson City, TN. The funeral services will follow at 7 p.m. with Rev. Mark Gooden officiating. The graveside committal service will be conducted at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, in the Mountain Home National Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be Grandsons. The American Legion Post 3-265 Honor Guard will accord military honors. Minister, family and friends are requested to meet at Morris-Baker by 10 a.m. Thursday to go in procession to the cemetery. The family wishes to thank all members of Dave's team at the hospital, the staff at Colonial Hill Retirement Center, and the caregivers from Home Instead for their tender, loving care.

Memories Timeline


  1. Anonymous says:

    Dr. David Purner and Family, Please accept my sincerest sympathy and thoughts are this time of loss for you. May your many memories of his extraordinary life lift you up at this time. Cindy

  2. Anonymous says:

    ‘Dudley’ will always have a place in my heart. He was a gentle and honorable man and taught me a lot. I’m proud to have known him.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear Purner family: I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you during this extremely difficult time. David and Louise Purner were two of my favorite people. I first met them when I started working at Bank of America (at that time, Mountain Empire Bank). David was quite the character, and I loved listening to his stories. Some of my favorite afternoons were spent just "catching up" with the two of them at their apartment at NHC. I always admired the unconditional love that he and Louise had for each other. Your parents had such a special bond. I am so mad at myself, because after Louise died, I kept telling myself that I needed to stop by NHC and check and see how David was doing. And, now it’s too late. I count myself lucky to have known both of them. And, I take solace in the fact that they are once again together in Heaven. May God Bless all of you. David Atchley

  4. Anonymous says:

    Frank, Margaret, Melissa and families: So sorry for your loss. Our prayers will be with all of you at this time. May your memories and the love of your family get you throught this difficult time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    To Melissa, Tom and family. I am so sorry for your loss. I was unaware until today. Please accept my apologies for not being there for you and your family. From the news story and article it is obvious what a great man he was. Just reading family members I know he left behind a legacy of strong minds and big hearts who give to others as he did. Most of all as I read his story I also thought of what a wonderful example he was living a life as every American citizen should. I know you will miss him and just like my dad, that generation of WWII veterans are one of a kind. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. suzi

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