Joseph R. Dunbar 1972-2013

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Joseph Randall Dunbar, 40, most beloved son of Kenneth J. and Kathy Sweitzer Dunbar, went with peace and grace in the arms of Jesus on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

God blessed his family with Joseph in Clearwater, Fla., on Sept. 7, 1972. From Florida he moved back to Cortland, where the family was originally from.

Joseph attended Maplewood High School in Mecca. In 2009, Joseph and his parents moved to Oak Ridge.

He had many talents which included his livelihood of being a chef, which was rivaled by his love of music, being a musician and singer himself. He also had a talent for writing, drawing and painting. Joseph was an adrenaline junkie and thrillseeker, never finding a roller coaster he did not like.

Joseph spent his free time as an advocate for people less fortunate. His love of people led him to become an advocate for human rights, and his love of animals led him to work in animal rescue and welfare. Joseph also ventured into legislative advocacy, working on numerous campaigns over the years.

His short 40 years cut short his love of travel and seeking new adventures. He especially loved vacations traveling with his family.

Joseph was a member of Kern United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge.

Another great love of Joseph’s life was his dog and his companion, Baxter Dunbar, his faithful friend.

Joseph is survived by his most loving sister and best friend, Sarah (Michael) Harper of Richmond, Va. Mike was always more like a brother to Joseph. He is also survived by his devoted niece, Ashley Harper of Richmond, Va., whom he cherished dearly; five aunts he loved dearly, and one in particular in Oak Ridge who loved to spend her spare time with Joseph; four uncles; and first, second and third cousins too numerous to mention.

“Our family is one of the closest there could ever hope to be.”

Joseph was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Wade and Ethel Sweitzer of Johnston, and his paternal grandparents, George Dunbar of Phoenix and Betty (Dunbar) Austin of Cortland. Joseph was also preceded in death by six maternal uncles and one paternal aunt.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and/or Paws to the Rescue Marion County Animal Shelter (PTTR) in Marion County, S.C.

“Our hearts are very thankful for our Pastor, Don Morris and his assistant, Karen Spearman, both of whom Joseph thought the world of, as he did all his church family.”

A memorial service celebrating Joseph’s life was held Saturday at Kern Memorial Methodist Church in Oak Ridge.

A memorial service will be announced in the future for a spring burial service in Ohio.

Weatherford Mortuary of Oak Ridge handled the arrangements. An online guestbook can be signed at

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