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Retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ervin L. "Poncho" Dunahoe passed away peacefully on Jan. 12, 2013, after a courageous battle against Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). Despite extreme physical obstacles, he remained strong in spirit and his sense of humor was as brilliant as ever. Although the disease took away his physical abilities, he remained a pillar of strength for his beloved wife and family.
Born June 20, 1936, in Hawkins to Charlie and Cleo Dunahoe, he graduated from Hawkins High School in 1954 where he lettered in football, track and was the sergeant-at-arms for the Future Homemakers of America Society (FHA). The third of four children born to Charlie and Cleo, his early life can safely be described as mischievous, playful and full of fun and practical jokes.
Upon graduation from high school, Poncho enlisted in the Coast Guard and served on a variety of ships and stations throughout his 22-year career. He served aboard the Coast Guard Cutters USCGC Dione and the USCGS Yocona. Rising to the rank of chief petty officer, he was selected to the Warrant Officer Program, retiring as a chief warrant officer-3 (CWO3) in 1976. Of note, he served aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker USCGC Northwind and deployed on five Arctic patrols during his tour aboard this ship. In 1969, his ship escorted the SS Manhatten supertanker through the Northwest Passage and became the first surface vessel to conduct both a West to East and East to West transit of the Northwest Passage in a single season. He was the recipient of the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal with three bronze stars in lieu of the second, third and fourth award Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Arctic Service Medal with one silver star, and the Coast Guard Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one silver star.
Settling in Tyler upon retirement from the Coast Guard, he worked for the Delta Drilling Co. and he sold insurance and real estate. After retiring to The Woodlands in 2000, he was a frequent guest at the casinos in Louisiana. Poncho was a good friend of the casino's dollar slot machines where he occasionally won, sometimes not, but he always had fun.
His greatest accomplishment later in life was winning the heart and hand of Lorita Martin. They married in 1987 and despite his best efforts, and not because of them, she stuck with him through thick and thin for almost 27 years. Occasionally cantankerous and often demanding, he was prone to speak his mind whether you wanted to hear what he had to say or not. Poncho's life and relationships were characterized by warmth, love, kindness and humor.
A devoted husband, father and brother, he is survived by his wife, Lorita; his brother, Everett Dunahoe; his three children, Brent Dunahoe, Liz Barnes and John Dunahoe; three stepchildren, Stephanie Martin, Lance "Bud" Martin and Tiffany Martin; 11 grandchildren; several nieces, nephews and other relatives; as well as an innumerable lifetime friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charlie and Cleo Dunahoe; his sister, Charlene Martin; and his brother, retired USCG Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Don Dunahoe.
If the greatest thing in life is to love and be loved, then Poncho lived life to the fullest and is truly one of the luckiest men who lived on this earth.
Visitation will be at Beaty Funeral Home in Mineola from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.
Graveside services will be held on the following day, Thursday, Jan. 17, in Roselawn Memorial Gardens at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Gordon Dunahoe officiating.
Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Jan. 15, 2013