It was fortunate for Harlan that Dr. Nunez became aware of a great need for physicians in our town and he had a burning desire to practice where he was most needed. A graduate of the University of Southern Louisiana, he came to the mountains of Kentucky and practiced at both the Daniel Boone Clinic and Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital. In addition to his passion for medicine, he also loved fishing, carpentry and auto mechanics. Dr. Nunez was a perpetual student having a thirst for continued education and learning new things of every description.
The greatest love of his life was his dear wife, Dawn, and together they had three children in whom they instilled a strong faith and a passion for higher education. His children, Laurie, Donell and Matt, chose medical professions, namely nursing, pharmacy and dentistry. All of them returned to Harlan to serve the community and remain intact as a family, which these days is most uncommon. Additionally, Dawn and Al were blessed with nine grandchildren including one set of twins. Whenever any one of the grandchildren participated in any kind of sport or performance, you can bet your bottom dollar Dawn and Al were on the front row cheering them on and showing their support.
Dr. Nunez’s memorial service at Holy Trinity Church was hugely attended and those present were given a printed leaflet which included not only his biographical data, but listed a number of his “Life Lessons.” They enumerated his personal philosophy in quotes which he repeatedly iterated to his children and grandchildren through the years. Some will bring a smile to your face and some are vital advice that would certainly improve society if everyone followed them as faithfully as Dr.Nunez: ” In all things, pray for God’s guidance. Go to church. Love your family. Honor your father and mother. Learn to make sacrifices. Get a good education. Work hard every day. Marry only after you have finished college. Marry once, forever. Exercise your body and your mind daily. Follow your doctor’s advice. Wear cologne or perfume. Always wear a hat in the sun. Don’t throw anything away, you might need it later. Dogs like powdered milk in their food. Shine your shoes. Learn to dance. Enjoy life. Laugh. Smile.”
During his eulogy, delivered eloquently by his daughter Donell, it was pointed out that Dr. Nunez was a man of integrity with an abundant sense of humor and a boundless love for his family. He was a devout Catholic and supported his parish and church family. He was a dedicated physician serving the needy in rural clinics and always determined to study and update his skill. He was a devoted caretaker to his dear wife, Dawn, through her recent illness. Dr. Nunez was an invaluable member of our community and will be sorely missed, not only by his family but all the people whose lives he touched. “Love is stronger than death. They are not lost but gone before.”