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Frequent letter contributor to The Daily dies at

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

Karl Allen Dunlap of Falkville was a frequent contributor of letters to the editor at The Daily.

"He wrote about what was on his mind, and he wrote them kind of tongue in cheek, to wake people up," his widow, Elsie Dunlap, said Wednesday. "He loved people. He said, 'I don't care what they think about my letters as long as they think.' "

Karl Dunlap, 79, born and raised in South Charleston, W.Va., died Monday. His funeral is Thursday at 3 p.m. at Peck.

Dunlap said her husband's letters usually involved politics, like the one he wrote that The Daily published Feb. 13, 2005.

"Maybe it's just me, but while reading the Jan. 22 Daily, I got the impression there's no original thought left with politicians," he began. "First, we find plans for the Wallace Center have been called off. ... Why not turn it into a commercial zone, especially since we know Target wants to locate in the city?

"I also noticed a couple of letters from concerned citizens about future development. One viewed the private development of Point Mallard as a bad deal and the other viewed further development of the Beltline as a non-solution to the traffic problem. Both are reasonable views, in my opinion."

On Oct. 26, 2005, Dunlap took another swipe at city government, this time expressing the downside of the beautification effort.

"It has become common knowledge that Decatur is having difficulty putting together a budget for the coming year," he wrote. "It appears tax revenue may not cover operating expenses."

In the letter, Dunlap suggested increasing taxes for everyone wishing to make Decatur "beautiful" without regard for business.

"For some time, the city has made it almost impossible for 'mom and pop' businesses to operate," he wrote. "The most recent case that comes to mind was the small sit down restaurant seeking an approved location downtown, only to be denied a timely permit. Subsequently, it was welcomed as part of Hartselle's tax base. ... Let's face it. The decision is between commerce and beauty. Forget what the politicians say. That extra penny of sales tax was spent years ago. If I remember correctly, it was Pogo who said, 'We has met the enemy and it is us.' "

Wrote short stories

Elsie Dunlap said her husband had another passion of writing short stories for his collection about everyday human behavior.

"I have about 100 of them, and someday I hope to publish them," she said.

Although he battled serious health problems during the last half of his life, she said, her husband never complained.

"He wouldn't file for disability," she said. "He'd say, 'I can work. I'm fine.' But he wasn't. Due to his condition, he went from a business suit and tie to coveralls because he had to wear loose clothing. Everyone thought he was an old farmer and hard of hearing, and they tended to scream at him. But he had keen hearing."

A World War II veteran, Dunlap attended Morris Harvey College (now The University of Charleston) and earned a master's degree in clinical psychology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where the couple met. He worked in personnel for Kaiser Aluminum in Ravenswood, W.Va., and came to Decatur as personnel supervisor of Worthington Climatrol.

"He had an option to go to New Jersey when the company relocated, but we chose to stay here," she said. "Then he was diagnosed with colon cancer and had a colostomy. That changed our life rather quickly, but he lived 39 more years, surviving numerous other problems, including more cancers, two heart attacks and open heart surgery."

Started business

The couple went into business for themselves. She said she started the first temporary help agency in Decatur called Tempo Personnel Help.

"The other part of the business, called Dome Personnel, was for permanent employees and Karl ran that side of the business," she said. "We kept it about 25 years."

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