Funeral director eased families' worries
During the 52 years he owned the James W. Tunie Funeral Home in Homestead, Mr. Tunie was known for the care and compassion he showed to the families who came to him to bury their loved ones.
“Mr. Tunie's first admonition to a grieving family was ‘let's bury your family member decently and in order and worry later about financial arrangements,' ” said Ronald Jenkins, a funeral director at the Tunie Funeral Home. “And there were many whom he buried free when their families could not pay.”
James W. Tunie Sr. of Homestead died on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in his home. He was 85.
When the organization 100 Black Women of Funeral Service designated Mr. Tunie a “Living Legend” in August, it marked the culmination of his 70 years of service to the bereaved that began when he was 14.
“Jim had a small, part-time job cleaning at the George W. Gaines Funeral Home when it first was located in Homestead,” said ex-wife and caregiver Evelyn Tunie of Homestead. “Mr. Gaines found my husband to be a studious and hardworking young man who showed interest in becoming a funeral director. And when Mr. Gaines moved his business to East Liberty, he took my husband with him.”
Born in Rochester in Beaver County, and raised in Homestead, Mr. Tunie was one of seven children of the Rev. Edgar Price Tunie and his wife, Effie Taddy Tunie.
In the years after graduation from Westinghouse High School in Homewood, where he played basketball, Mr. Tunie served as an Army electrician, attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and interned with the Frances Keith Funeral Home in McKeesport. In 1954, he married Evelyn Hawkins.
“I became a funeral director in 1968, and Jim and I worked together,” she said.
Linda McGhee of Monroeville said her father was able to balance his professional life and family.
“Although Dad was always there for the families in mourning, he made time to attend many of our high school activities,” she said. “He was a wise and kind father, who passed his wisdom to his children and was willing to make time in guiding others.”
In addition to his daughter Linda, Mr. Tunie is survived by his children, James W. Tunie Jr. of Shelby, Tenn., Tamara Generet of New York City, Stacey Tunie of Jefferson Hills and Michele Lockley of Duquesne; and 10 grandchildren.
Mr. Tunie was preceded in death by a daughter, Terri Tunie Reed.
Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Tunie Funeral Home, 218 E. 11th Ave. in Homestead.
Funeral services will held at 11 a.m. Friday in the Clark Memorial Baptist Church in Homestead with the Rev. James Douglas Burwell officiating.
Jerry Vondas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.