Cover photo for Gary Dunham's Obituary
Gary Dunham Profile Photo
1951 Gary 2022

Gary Dunham

March 5, 1951 — November 2, 2022


Gary Dunham

Born March 5, 1951 - Died November 2, 2022

Gary died at home early in the morning on November 2, while the stars shone bright and the half-moon waxed. He was surrounded and held closely by his family while he left for his next adventure. The rooster crowed, the blue-jay visited our balcony, and we experienced one last, breathtaking sunrise together as a family. We will never get over him having to leave us. While being grateful for the time we have had together, it would never be enough.

He was born in Port Hueneme, in Ventura County, California, the third of six children for Frederick Dunham and Clara Ophelia Tolbert Dunham. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Richard, and just last week by brother Rodney. He is survived by his wife, Kari Ellen Jordahl; children, Maggie Dunham Jordahl (Matt Aitken) and Jonas Dunham Jordahl; siblings, Fred Dunham (Beth); Michael Dunham; Cynthia Dunham Parsons. He is survived by in-laws Jane Dunham; Kristi Jordahl, Jordy Jordahl (Calliope) as well as nieces, nephews, and many cousins and friends.

Gary Dunham lived many lives within his seventy-one years. From his time on the beaches and in the waters of the California coast and the many summits he found within the Rockies and Sierras, to leading the Local 600 union in Hollywood and spending his career behind a camera shooting major motion pictures, Gary’s life experience was varied and vast. He graduated with a Bachelors of Philosophy from UC Santa Barbara, where he became annoyingly skilled in debate and met several cherished, lifelong friends. In his later years in Wisconsin, he was deeply involved in the indie film community, where he taught classes and led the film club at Madison Media Institute. He was truly a renaissance man. He reinvented himself many times; he was a self-taught craftsman, artist, potter, musician, engineer, photographer, woodworker, landscape architect, mechanic. He had an amazing memory, and deep knowledge across many subjects.

His greatest achievement and greatest joy was being a father to Maggie and Jonas. From science fair projects to coaching sports to being the best camping Dad on Scout adventures, he loved supporting and enjoying fatherhood’s adventures. We were fortunate to have some amazing adventures together – camping, hiking, biking, swimming, paddleboarding, and canoeing, from northern Wisconsin and the U.P to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Tetons, all the way to the red sandstone of the Southwest.

Home was important to him; having moved frequently as a kid, a sense of place and roots mattered, and he never stopped doing or planning home improvements and renovations. Guitars, books, and original art surround us. He envisioned and carefully sculpted our beautiful yard; clearing the overgrown thickets to reveal massive old oaks and creating a beautiful place to spend time outdoors. Yard tours were a daily occurrence, solo and reflective and appreciative, or with critters parading alongside. He loved rolling around on the floor with our beloved pups and kitties, from Casey and Loki to Poppy and Spooky.

A visitation will be held on Saturday, November 12 from 1:00 - 3:00 followed by a brief service at 3:00 at CRESS CENTER, 6021 University Avenue, Madison.   If you are unable to join us in person, please register to join us at

Instead of flowers, donations can be sent to the UW Carbone Cancer Center targeted for Glioblastoma; to the American Brain Tumor Association online at or via mail at The American Brain Tumor Association; 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. #550; Chicago, IL 60631. Or enjoy your favorite outdoor location, say a blessing to Gary, and contribute to any charity of your choice.

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary Dunham, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, November 12, 2022

1:00 - 3:00pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Starts at 3:00pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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