Larry Freeman Bunch passed peacefully at his home in Piney Flats, TN, on January 1, 2023, at age 82.
He was born in Coalfield, TN, to the late Freeman and Helen (Adkisson) Bunch. When Larry was two, his parents moved to Brisbane, California, and lived there until 1945. Between 1945 and 1951, they lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Hiawatha and Dragerton, Utah. Some of his best memories were of living in Hiawatha. In 1951 his parents moved to northern California to become residents of Davis, where he attended Davis High School. In October 1958, he entered the Army and subsequently received Airborne training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, serving three years as a paratrooper at Fort Campbell and in Germany. After receiving an honorable discharge in June 1962, he attended Sacramento State College. In 1964, he entered the finance business in Sacramento and, in 1967, moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he eventually went into banking. In 1971, he was promoted to Vice president and Manager of Alaska National Bank in the Eskimo town of Nome, Alaska. This bank had the designation of being the most northern banking location in the United States at that time.
Because of the remoteness and travel difficulty in Alaska, he purchased an Aeronca Champ Aircraft in 1968. This was the beginning of his aviation career. He had decided that flying the aircraft was better than jumping out and had become an infamous bush pilot. In 1974 he moved back to the lower 48 and attended the Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach, Florida. In 1975, he moved to the Tri-Cities area to be near his family, that lived in Coalfield. He became Chief Flight Instructor for Appalachian Flying Service located at Tri-City Airport. Then in 1977, he was promoted to Chief Pilot and Manager of the Aviation Department at Appalachian and completed his Airline Transport Rating and Cessna Citation type rating. In September 1979, he began work for United Coal Company, now The United Company of Bristol, Virginia, in their corporate aviation department located at Tri-City Airport. During his tenure at United, he attended Mitsubishi and Westwind School, and in September 1986, he attended Boeing 727 School at Piedmont Airlines in Greensboro, NC. In January 1989, he was type-rated in the Gulfstream II at Flight Safety in Savannah, Georgia. He became Chief Pilot for United, and Larry enjoyed his 22-year career flying his United colleagues and special passengers.
During his time with United, the aircrew flew celebrities such as Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, President George H. W. Bush, and Michael Jackson on his “Bad Tour” in Europe in the late ’80s. Michael was one of his favorite passengers. A heart attack in 2001 ended his flying career. Larry loved to travel and has been to all 50 states and several foreign countries. The highlight of his travels was a dream tour of mainland China in 2007. He was able to tour Hong Kong with his son, Jared. He toured Beijing and walked on the Great Wall of China. He saw the famous terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, boarded a vessel in Chongqing, and cruised almost 1,000 miles down the Yangtze River to Shanghai.
When his flight career ended, his traveling did not. He and his wife, Pat, traveled the US for several years camping with their cat Esmerelda. He returned to visit the Alaska he loved so well and spent many pleasant winters in the Florida Keys fishing, golfing, and making friends. When not traveling, he was at home at Timberlake, which he lovingly called his “middle age spread.”
Larry was preceded in death by his parents, former wife Lacretia Lane, and special mother-in-law, Betty Begley. Survivors include his loving wife of 37 years, Patricia Begley Bunch, and a sister, Carol Jackson of Coalfield, TN; son, Jared Lane Bunch (Berna) of Jenson Beach, Florida. Stepsons Tony Click (Kimberly Jarema) of Cary, North Carolina, and Charles Click (Ivy) of Johnson City, Tennessee. He has seven beautiful grandchildren: Gabriel, Madeleine, and Alexander Bunch; Aiden, Tristan, Riley, and Eli Click. He was blessed with several nieces and nephews, brother-in-law, Gerold (Glenna) Begley, Kingsport, TN; sister-in-law Laura Ramey, Piney Flats, TN.
A Celebration of Life will be held at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1665 Allison Road, Piney Flats, TN 37686, on Monday, January 16, 2023. Visitation will begin at 3:00 p.m. Food will be provided, and everyone is welcome to celebrate his life and share memories. The family will receive friends at home, 162 Timberlake Private Drive in Piney Flats, any time on Sunday, January 15, 2023.
Trinity Memorial Centers Funeral Home (423-723-8177) is honored to serve the Bunch family.
To leave a note for Larry’s family or to share a memory, please go to our online guestbook at jacksonfuneralservices.com