Gregory Roland Dunnavant was born on December 11, 1957 in Durham, North Carolina to William and Kathryn Dunnavant. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and, as a boy, he enjoyed camping, Boy Scouts (Eagle Scout), and playing the tuba in the high school band. He also loved playing with critters on the family farm, and even gave free flights on his model airplanes and rockets to some of them.
He was always interested in firearms marksmanship and started in grade school, as a member of the Battelle Jr. Rifle Club in Columbus. As a teen, he competed in matches sponsored by the Buckeye Jr. Rifle League and the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association and won several small-bore rifle championships. At Ohio State University, he was the varsity Big-Ten rifle champion and had been a frequent competitor at the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, where he qualified for the “President’s 100”, recognizing the top 100 scorers with a service rifle in a national competition.
After graduating from Upper Arlington High School (Ohio) in 1975, Greg faced the big question: what did he want to do now? His answer, as demonstrated by his life, was he wanted to do everything. He picked a bunch of careers and did them all!
He started with attending Ohio State University, earning his B.S. in Finance in 1980. After getting his undergraduate degree he earned his pilot’s license and honed his skills as a flying instructor and by selling and delivering aircraft parts. He had a deep love of flying and talked often of flying again when he retired.
Greg then went back to Ohio State to earn his M.S degree in Physiology in 1986. He was then accepted into the Medical College of Ohio, at Toledo, where he spent two years, then transferred to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he received his M.D. degree in 1990.
He became a widely respected physician in the 30 years since then, working in the emergency room as a member of the Trauma Center Staff of the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, and the Intermountain West Medical Center in Murray, Utah. He also enjoyed teaching emergency medicine and served as the Medical Director of several city fire departments in the Salt Lake City area, Medical Director of the California State Highway Patrol, and Medical Director for the State of California Parks and Recreation – a role that required him to divide his work schedule between Utah and California. He was a graduate of the Utah Police Officer’s Training Academy where he often served as an emergency medicine and/or firearms instructor for police cadets. He also worked as Medical Director for SkyWest Airlines.
While many would consider being a doctor enough to think about, Greg disagreed. He was also a member of the Utah Army National Guard and served as Battalion Surgeon of its 19th Special Forces Group for 18 years. To qualify for his work with the Special Forces unit, he attended and graduated from the airborne Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1992.
Greg is remembered by his colleagues and friends as being acutely intelligent and extremely hardworking. Greg had a knack for taking something complex and distilling it down to something efficient and effective. He is credited with being paramount in developing training programs and systems used to train police, lifeguards, and medical teams that have literally saved lives. He was also a natural teacher, and was beloved for his humble, down-to-earth wit and patience while he taught.
Later in his life, Greg fell in love with and married Cynthia Dunnavant on June 6, 2015. She fell in love with his brilliance, his radiating warmth, and his genuine love for others. Their bond and shared love was truly amazing and beautiful for all that knew them. As just one example, Greg delighted in surprising Cindy with bouquets of flowers sent to her office, just so she got a message of his love for her that day.
Greg and Cindy loved to travel the world. And although their time together was not long, they lived their life to the fullest. Some of their favorite places they explored in their five years include: Scotland, New Zealand, Africa, Tahiti, Germany, the Netherlands, and many others.
When they weren’t globetrotting, Greg and Cynthia adored just spending time together with friends and family. They enjoyed hiking, camping, and relaxing at their home sitting on their back deck by the river, where they would enjoy feeding the ducks in the river and the squirrels in the trees. On special occasions, Oscar the owl and Lily the hummingbird would visit them.
Greg passed away unexpectedly on January 23, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah due to surgical heart complications (age 63). His beloved wife, Cynthia Dunnavant (Jentzsch) was by his side as his earthly story came to a close.
Gregory Roland Dunnavant was a man of abundance. He had an open heart, an open home, and an open mind. He saw possibility and opportunity, and we will sincerely miss his leadership, his vision, and his contagious smile. He dedicated his life to family, friend, and a career of caring for others. We hope you will join us in honoring his legacy by serving someone today.
He is survived by his younger brother Jeff Dunnavant (Honolulu, HI/Portland, OR), and his wife Cynthia (Salt Lake City, UT).
Funeral services will be held February 6th 2021 at 11:00am with a viewing one hour prior. A second viewing will be held one night prior on Friday from 6-8 pm at Memorial Mountain View Mortuary: 3115 East 7800 South (Bengal Blvd) Cottonwood Heights, Utah, 84121. Interment to follow. Services will also be live streamed via Zoom -Information to link TBA