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Stephen Kersten Dunning

Posted By Kristen Norton On May 13, 2019 @ 1:02 pm In Obituary | 11 Comments

Stephen Kersten Dunning

July 10, 1989 – May 10, 2019

Stephen Kersten Dunning gently lay his burden down early in the morning of May 10, 2019. Stephen was a musician, composer, and a dedicated teacher who valued the well-being of his students above all else. Stephen was a complex and intelligent person, uncompromising, and impactful in the relationships formed during his life. Stephen was born on July 10, 1989 in Bryan, TX. He graduated from Bryan High School (with honors) a year early, and he became an Aggie at age 17, focusing on music. He also joined the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra as a double bass player. The next year Stephen transferred to the University of North Texas, where he majored in Music Composition and Theory and minored in double bass and cello performance. Stephen graduated early (with honors) at age 21.

Stephen began his career as a music teacher in Texas Public Schools. He always taught in Title I schools and was acutely aware of the problems that his poor, especially black and Hispanic students faced in their daily lives. Stephen kept an eye on his troubled students, and he spotted signs of distress early on. He made a point of getting to know their parents, often visiting their homes. Stephen worked hard and often stayed late to give private lessons to promising young musicians. He never charged for his services, and on several occasions he gave bright but poor students his own instruments. Stephen and his father joined together each year to donate thousands of dollars to local schools and charities focusing on the needs of poor children. Stephen loved hearing from his former students and continued to counsel some of them long after they left his classroom. It is an understatement to say that Stephen loved his students. He was especially fond of his former students from Hearne, where he worked for two years. During the past two years Stephen worked at the Harmony Science Academy in Bryan.

Stephen would want to be remembered for his music, his love for art, his humor and intellect, and most of all his love for living things – especially children. He was devoted to his family and close friends, and he loved them fiercely. Starting at age 8, Stephen and his father regularly played chess and talked about music, history, philosophy, and religion. Recently, Stephen and his father worked on a research project focusing on the musical evolution of Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov. Stephen was an avid and deep reader, and he was a keen student of theology. He firmly believed in God and enjoyed learning about Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Stephen is survived by his parents Chester Dunning and Elsie Kersten; his aunt and uncle, Claudia and Vic Lively; his aunt, Carol Ann O’Connär; his uncle, Al Kersten; his cousins, Mario Goertzel, Levi Brown, Ari Goertzel, Carolyn Goertzel, Megan Goertzel, Anora Brown, and Leah Brown; his “second mothers” Karen Hillier and Jan Krammer; his best friend and “brother” Sam Woodfin; his dear “brother” Doug Krammer; many other friends, and his cat Dolly Lama.

A Celebration of Stephen’s life will take place on Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at Callaway Jones Funeral Center, 3001 S. College Ave. in Bryan. The tribute to Stephen will be followed immediately by a reception also at Callaway-Jones. A special invitation to attend is issued to Stephen’s beloved students and their families. Stephen’s parents and friends hope to see you there.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Boys & Girls Club of Brazos Valley (900 W. William J. Bryan Parkway, Bryan, TX 77803) or the Brazos Valley Food Bank (1501 Independence Ave, Bryan, TX 77803).





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Condolence from Mark and Kathy and the whole Waller family on May 13th, 2019 6:56 pm

Elsie and Chester, our hearts are hurting for and with you. Stephen was a gifted young man, who had so many things yet to offer this world. God rest his soul. May you and Chester feel God’s comforting embrace as you try to move forward.
With warmth and sympathy, Mark, Kathy and Rosie, etc.

Condolence from Peter Lieuwen on May 14th, 2019 9:29 am

Dear Elsie and Chester,

We are so sorry for your loss. I remember Stephen as a uniquely gifted musician and composer.
Our thoughts are with you. Bonnee and Peter

Condolence from Dr. Freema Ervin on May 14th, 2019 2:48 pm

Much Love and fervent Prayers for Mr. Dunning parents and extended family. Great Loss to the Educational Arena.

Condolence from Giana Serna on May 17th, 2019 8:51 am

Hello, this is Giana Serna, a student at Harmony. I can’t express how much sadness and sympathy I feel for you. He was not only a great teacher, he was considered a great friend. He will forever be missed. He taught me to love the little things and enjoy being a kid while I still can. I will remember him as the one person who focused on the good and not the bad. The hope in the lost faith. The truth in the lies. The light in the dark. May he be forever…free.

Condolence from Tomas Hernandez on May 17th, 2019 4:27 pm

My childhood best friend, a creative and a huge part of what made me who I am today. I appreciate him and also his loving parents for having me in their house. Running through the backyard garden hunting bumblebees, sitting in awe of his Spawn action figure collection and laughing at his eccentric and esoteric sense of humor. I was a weird one and he celebrated that. Much love and wonderful memories. God Bless.

Condolence from D. Bruce Dickson on May 18th, 2019 4:08 pm

Dear Chester and Elsie, I was so sorry to hear of the passing of your son, Stephen. He was clearly a gifted and extraordinary young man. There can be nothing worse than the death of one’s child. Please accept my condolences and warmest regards. Sincerely, Bruce

Condolence from Pauline Hodges on May 20th, 2019 9:30 am

We are so sorry to hear about Stephen’s death- we were all very shocked-prayers to you all and what good memories- Stephen was such a bight young man and I remember Chester telling us stories about how much he cared for his students and things he did for them- Ho w wonderful!! He will be greatly missed.

Condolence from Nancy Nuche on May 24th, 2019 10:10 pm

When I heard about Stephen’s passing, all of the school parties, field trips and class plays at Sul Ross Elementary came to mind. Stephen was so smart and talented and caring and kind. It was evident even in elementary school that he was going to make the world a better place. It’s hard to believe the number of years that have passed since those precious memories were made.
Please know, your family is in our thoughts and prayers and Joe and I send our heartfelt condolences.

Condolence from Denise Cunagin on June 13th, 2019 10:07 am

Dearest Elsie and Chester,
I was shocked and so saddened when I recently heard of Stephen’s death. I just now found and read this lovely obituary. What a terrible loss this is!

I know that this must be a terrible blow to you both, and that there isn’t very much anyone can do to help to soften it. But please know that I am grieving with you, and that I am sending many hugs and prayers for your peace.
Love from Denise C.

Condolence from Fernando on August 4th, 2019 1:01 am

Mr.Dunnin was my best friend but not only my best friend he was da da greatest teacher and I miss him. I am a student from Harmony. We love u Mr dunning

Condolence from David Corral on August 27th, 2019 4:24 pm

I was also one of his students at Harmony Science Academy and he will be missed by all his student we loved he was one of the BEST teachers i have ever and may he rest in peace.

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