Eugene “Gene” Bunting and Mary Gray Bunting, lifelong residents of Selbyville, Del., crossed over the river into the arms of their Savior within 10 hours of each other last week. They were both 90. Mary Bunting passed on the evening of June 12, 2018, at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md. Hours later, on the morning of June 13, 2018, at his home in Selbyville, without earthly word of his wife’s death, Gene responded to the call and followed her to heaven to continue their love story from their 72 years of marriage.
Mary Bunting was born Feb. 25, 1928, daughter of the late Hon. Everett Mitchell Gray and Annie (Grise) Gray. She was a nurturing homemaker and devout Christian. Gene Bunting was born March 6, 1928, to the late Hon. Clayton A. Bunting and Fanny Elizabeth (Burrows) Bunting. He was a retired nurseryman, and former president and owner of Bunting Nurseries Inc. and Peninsula Nurseries Inc.
The couple met in elementary school, fell in love and never parted. Both graduated from Selbyville High School and attended Goldey-Beacom Business College. Gene Bunting also attended Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, W.Va. They married on Oct. 14, 1946.
They were lifelong conservative Republicans. Gene Bunting served as Sussex County chairman of the Republican Party from 1966 to 1968; Delaware State Republican Party chairman from 1969 to 1972; and Delaware Secretary of State from 1969 to 1972.
His father, Clayton, who passed down the family business and legacy for public service to his son, had served as commissioner of the State Highway Department during the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge; sat on the Delaware State Board of Education; served in the Delaware State Senate from 1941 to 1949; and was Senate president pro tempore from 1944 to 1949. Mary Bunting’s father, Everett Gray, had served in the Delaware House of Representatives from 1946 to 1948.
Gene Bunting was a 33rd degree Master Mason, A.F. & A.M., of the Doric Lodge in Millville, Del. He served stints as president of multiple organizations, including the Selbyville Rotary Club, Paul Harris Fellow; Eastern Regional Nurserymen’s Association; Fruit Tree Growers Association of America; and the American Association of Nurserymen, the premier representative body in the industry, where he presided over the Nursery Industry Political Action Committee (NIPAC), and was chairman of the AAN Legislative Committee.
His tenure included working closely with First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, launching her National Beautification Program. Additionally, he was a Baltimore Trust Company (later, PNC Bank) trustee and served on the executive committee.
The Buntings were covenant members of Peninsula Community Church in Selbyville, where they were led by God to donate the land on Cypress Road, where the church is located. They were senior honorary members of the Sussex Pines Country Club in Georgetown, Del., and longtime members of the Island Country Club in Marco Island, Fla., where they spent 30 years of winter enjoyment in retirement.
They were preceded in death by Mary Bunting’s two brothers, Madison M. Gray (husband of Catherine) and the Hon. George Edward Gray (husband of Anna Lee), and by Gene Bunting’s four siblings, who died at very young ages. They are survived by four children, Helen B. McCool and her husband, Ron, of Georgetown, Clayton E. Bunting and his wife, Debbie, of Georgetown, Rachel B. Marcus of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mary Jean Gleichman and her husband, Jeff, of Sammamish, Wash.; nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and Mary’s sister, Geraldine Stevens and her husband, Fred, of Selbyville.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 1 p.m. at Peninsula Community Church, 28574 Cypress Road in Selbyville, Del., with a viewing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Peninsula Community Church, Inc.; 28574 Cypress Rd.; Selbyville, DE 19975. Condolences may be sent online at www.bishophastingsfh.com.