Boone Dunbar, 83, of Brazil, died at 4:15 a.m. Thursday, July 1, 2004, at the Clay Health Center.
He was born April 9, 1921, in Brazil. He was the son of William and Willella Senter Dunbar. He attended Brazil High School and participated as a member of the track team.
He married Erma Spencer on Oct. 26, 1941. She preceded him in death on May 20, 1999. When World War II began, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served until January 1946. He served in the 348th Base Unit, earning the rank of Staff Sargent.
He worked at several area companies including Hydraulics Brick Company, Arketex and Twigs Industries. He also worked at the Clay County Highway Department and had been employed as a dispatcher with the Brazil Police Department.
He was known throughout the region as a musician and entertainer. He had his first brush with music at the age of 13 in 1935 as the first kazoo player of the Brazil jug band with Shag Oliver and His Rhythm Swingers. A few years later, he created the first Boonaphone by sawing off part of a plain brass horn and jamming a kazoo into the thin end for a mouthpiece. The razzy little horn created a sound of its own and came to be a hallmark of his music.
In 1938, he joined the popular Dukes of Rhythm band, which played at locations throughout the Wabash Valley. He didn't give up music in the military. After enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corp, he joined the drum and bugle corps and helped organize a big band on the Dyersburg, Tenn., base.
Following military service, he was offered a job singing at The Flamingo room at 9th St. and Wabash Ave. Thus began a long stretch at the hottest nightclub of the 1950s. In 1957, he was asked by legendary bandleader Lionel Hampton to travel with their band through performances in Chicago, Kansas City and other large cities in the Midwest. During his entertainment career, he also performed with celebrities like Jerry VanDyke, Phil Harris and Nat "King" Cole's brother, Ike.
Even after ending his professional career, he continued to sing with the Brazil Concert Band and entertain at local nursing homes and civic events. He was a member of the VFW Post 1127, American Legion Post 2 and the Brazil United Pentecostal Church where he was baptized June 23, 2002.
He received many community awards including Clay County's Man of the Year in 1973, A Lifetime of Music Award from the Brazil Concert Band in 1994 and induction into the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame in 1994. The State of Indiana House of Representatives presented him with their Professional Artists Award for 2000.
He was also preceded in death by his parents; one daughter, Deborah Sue Dunbar; and three brothers, Jefferson "J.D.", Robert "R.J." and Sylvester Rogers.
He is survived by one sister, Willa Mae Allen of Brazil; one brother, Luther "Mickey" Dunbar; one son, Ronald and Julia Dunbar of Mountain Home, Idaho; three daughters, Linda and Marvin Utley of Terre Haute, Connie and William Rowan and Joyce and Billy Vinson, all of Brazil; eight grandchildren, Marvin and Sean Utley, Kenneth and William Rowan Jr., Angela Vinson, Kimberlee Bryan and Ronnie and Brian Dunbar; and eight great-grandchildren, Mikayla and Kennedy Rowan, Logan Utley, Ronald Dunbar III, Jayden, Dior and Julian Dunbar and Tierinee Bryan.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Moore Funeral Home with the Rev. Carl Davis officiating. Burial will follow at Clearview Cemetery with military honors by VFW Posts 1127 and American Legion Post 2. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Should friends so desire, expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the Brazil Concert Band. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Visit www.moore-funeral-homes.com for more information or to send a card of condolence.