William Thurston "Bill" Dunn



William Thurston Dunn, known as Bill Dunn (born January 11, 1931), is a retired businessman in his native Minden, Louisiana.

His father, Hugh Graham. Dunn, Sr. (1900-1986), was the planer mill operator involved the construction of Caney Lakes Recreation Area. Dunn, Sr., was employed by the Soil Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service at the lakes from 1938-1965. Prior to the opening, Dunn, Sr., ran a sawmill which cut the timber for construction of the buildings, railings, piers, and bridges at the lakes. There was also a private concessionaire, Julius C. Salmon (1898-1970), who rented the cabins, paddle boats, and handled swimming and boating access to the lakes. Bill Dunn spent a lot of time in his youth roaming the lake area. He recalls at one time that it was possible to walk across Lower Caney in one spot about the width of a roadway leading to the Methodist Camp. The depth of the water was mostly under six feet in that particular location. 

Dunn’s mother was Bethel Dunn (1908-1982). His sister is Shirley D. Batres (husband Joe Batres) of Minden, and his two brothers, both deceased, are the Reverend Hugh G. Dunn, Jr. (1927-2007), a United Methodist clergyman, and Jerry Dunn. In 1950, Dunn graduated from Minden High School. So did his wife of fifty-eight years, the former Lera Lowe (born September 10, 1931), whose family came to Minden from Willisville in Nevada County in southwestern Arkansas. After high school, Dunn worked for the defunct Sanitary Dairy in Minden. He then operated his own Texaco station in the early 1970s on the Sibley Road at Interstate 20.

Dunn thereafter relocated to his father’s hometown of Hampton, Arkansas, where he entered the concrete business. Dunn attended family reunions in Hampton each June for many years and recalls four of his Hampton-area relatives all bearing the name “William Dunn”. Dunn was even elected to the Hampton City Council. However, he served only six days in office when he learned that membership on the council prevented him from bidding on city contracts. After seven years in Hampton, the Dunns returned to Minden. He thereafter ran unsuccessfully for the Minden City Council. 

His last and longest-running position was as a contractor painting land lines in the forest for Willamette Industries in an area from southern Arkansas to the Tensas River on the east and the Red River on the west. The lines are painted to designate timber company properties.
Bill and Lera Dunn have two children. Dennis William Dunn (born 1953),  a 1971 graduate of Minden High School who holds a degree in  forestry from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, is a Weyerhauser Company employee in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He is married to Jennifer Diane Dunn. Mary Beth Dunn Kilgore (born December 24, 1955) lives in Hampton, Arkansas, with her husband, James V. Kilgore. The Dunns have five grandchildren and, as of 2009, one great-grandchild. The couple resides at 900 Clay Street and attends the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Minden.

“It’s been a lot of water under the bridge,” Dunn says tongue-in-cheek of his years of living mostly in the Minden area.

Submitted by Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966