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John "Mike" Dunbar, 75 Veteran
November 17, 2023


John M. "Mike" Dunbar
November 4, 1948 — November 17, 2023

WORCESTER – John M. “Mike” Dunbar, of Worcester, died on November 17, 2023, at his home, surrounded by his loving family, after a hard-fought battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 75.

Mike was born in Brooklyn, NY, but raised in Waltham by his late parents, John C. and Irene L. (Murphy) Dunbar. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Waltham and completed a year of college at Purdue University before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served as a jet engineer aboard the USS Ranger for four years during the Vietnam War. After his service ended, Mike completed his bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hotel management from UMass Amherst.

He met the light and love of his life, Elizabeth “Betsy” Gilmore, while opening a Jack August restaurant in Hamden, CT, in 1977. He swept Betsy off her feet with his charm, wit, and well-groomed mustache. Despite a whirlwind romance and brief courtship, the two were married for 46 years.

He was the ultimate family man, always ensuring his family had incredible experiences. He worked three jobs so Betsy could stay at home and raise their three children and reinvented himself in a new career to escape the demanding schedule of the restaurant industry. He never missed an opportunity to color Easter eggs, pick apples, carve pumpkins, or even cut down a Christmas tree. He was Mr. Fix-It, all-star baseball/softball coach, homework tutor, expert campfire maker, horseshoe thrower, golfer, and perfect Halloween costume partner. Whether it was building a pool or pulling a camper, Mike was always making memories for his family.

He leaves his children, Sean M. Dunbar and his wife, Monika, of Burke, VA; Kimberly E. Ruscitti and her husband, Jeff, of Northborough; and Megan I. Polselli and her husband, Christopher, of Millbury. He was also a loving “Grampy” to six grandchildren, Dominic, Ella, Faith, Hannah, CJ, and Alexander. He is survived by his six siblings—Charlie, David, Kathy, Lany, Jane, and Stephen—and a number of nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be held at Nordgren Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 300 Lincoln St., Worcester, on Monday, November 20 from 5-8 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, November 21 at 10 a.m. at St. Michael’s on the Heights Church, 340 Burncoat St., Worcester.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Team Big Mike through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or to St. Michael's on the Heights Church. For directions or to leave an online condolence message, please click guestbook link.

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Nordgren Memorial Chapel
300 Lincoln Street
Worcester, MA 01605