Dr. Robert Louis "Bobby" Bunnen, 90: Helped establish Northside Hospital

When Dr. Bobby Bunnen saw a need, he did what he could to fill it. From patients who couldn't pay all the way to helping to establish a new hospital, the oral surgeon was known for simply doing what needed to be done.

"He was extremely generous with his time and his skill," said Robert Louis "Robb" Bunnen Jr., of Atlanta and Chevy Chase, Md., his son and namesake. "Every chance he got to be generous, he was."

Dr. Bunnen was among a group of doctors who helped establish Northside Hospital, after they identified a need for a healthcare facility north of the city, said Lucinda Weil Bunnen, his wife of nearly 60 years.

"He was among the early oral surgeons in the area," she said.

Robert Louis Bunnen, often called "Bobby" or "The Doc," of Atlanta, died Sunday at the William Breman Jewish Home from natural causes. He was 90. A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday at H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill, which is also in charge of arrangements.

Dr. Bunnen was born in Stevens Point, Wis., but grew up primarily in Pensacola, Fla. It was in Florida that he fell in love with the game of tennis, which he played well into his 80's, family members said. He attended Auburn University and once aspired to become a radio announcer, his wife said.

"When we'd go on family trips, he'd turn on the voice and sort of narrate the trips and we'd give him a hard time about it," she said with a laugh. "But in the end, he picked dentistry."

Dr. Bunnen, a Navy veteran, came to Atlanta to attend the newly-established dental school at Emory University in the 1940s. After graduation, he practiced general dentistry until he decided to pursue a degree in oral and maxillofacial surgery in the early '50s at Tufts University in Boston. He and his new bride moved to Massachusetts, but when they returned to Atlanta in 1956, the family included a young son and daughter. The couple soon added a second daughter and the family of five enjoyed many good times together.

"He was very much a family man," said Belinda Reusch, a daughter who lives in Atlanta.

"He worked hard and played hard," added Melissa Bunnen Jernigan, the youngest daughter, who also lives in Atlanta. "He was also loyal beyond anything anyone could imagine."

Mrs. Jernigan said that loyalty wasn't just toward family, but also to patients and colleagues.

"Years later he still got emails and notes from nurses and other people he worked with," she said. "And he enjoyed keeping up with them."

Records at Northside Hospital indicate Dr. Bunnen was on staff from 1968, two years before the hospital was officially established, until 1992. In his retirement years, Dr. Bunnen managed the family's philanthropic foundation, which supported local and national organizations.

"This was all part of his generosity," his son said. "It seems like it knew no bounds."

Dr. Bunnen is also survived by eight grandchildren.