Editor’s Note: This past August, we said good-bye to a special friend. Mike Dunn was a member of the Board of Directors of NAFDMA. He was gentle man with a love for agriculture and his fellow farmers. We will deeply miss his quiet nature, playful side and unending willingness to give his time and wisdom to so many. We extend our deep condolences the family of Michael Dunn of Montpelier Farms in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Written by Branden Jaquays, Assistant Editor, Country Folks Grower, Palatine Bridge, New York, Member since 2003
“Mike would have been devastated if we didn’t open,” says Adrianne Dunn, as she recalls this season’s opening day at Montpelier Farms — a farm she and her late husband Mike Dunn started back in 2007. Mike Dunn’s unexpected passing occurred less than two weeks before Montpelier Farm was set to open for it’s 8th Fall agritourism season. Adrianne, who started the farm with Mike less than a decade ago “from pretty much nothing”, is expecting more than 50,000 visitors this year — “It’s a hard time for me right now, I miss him so much.”
Opening day was a somber day, Mike’s memory was honored with a favorite photo of him, enlarged and framed; placed in a position of prominence in the barn. “Mike was loved by so many people,” Adrianne says, a collection of some of Mike’s favorite things were placed around the photo tribute, “Mike had a thing for Diet Coke, we placed one there, it said ‘Michael’ on it.”
Adrianne knows her husband was loved by many, she attributes some of that admiration to his innate ability to connect with people through a teacher’s approach. “Mike’s mom was an educator, always sharing her knowledge,” she says — believing he took that from her. “He would laugh with you or joke with you, but he always wanted you to improve, he wanted you to get better, and he liked to learn as well”.
When speaking of the day Mike died, Adrianne remembers it as a “great day” for her husband. “He saw everybody he loved that day” she says, with a quiet tremble in her voice. Adrianne, retracing that Sunday and the events leading up to Mike’s passing, is comforted in knowing he spent the day with the people he loved, doing what he loved — even barbecuing.
It was the last family event of the summer and after a full day of family-get-togethers, Mike, Adrianne and their eight year-old daughter returned home around 8:45 p.m.; three hours later Adrianne would be frantically dialing emergency services in hope of reviving her husband. “It was a massive heart attack” she says, alluding to a family history of heart disease “His mom passed five years ago, a massive heart attack.”
According to Adrianne, Mike’s Grandfather also died of a heart attack, so Mike took his health seriously. “He took care of himself”, she says “he was such a family man, his family was always number one and he wanted to be around to see his daughter grow up — he lived for her.”
While Adrianne struggles to put into perspective the last moments of Mike’s life, she is comforted by the support and communications from those within the NAFDMA community. “Not only did many of the NAFDMA Board Members attend Mike’s funeral, but also many NAFDMA members from all over the United States and Canada” came to show their respect and support. “Mike was very close with many members, I’d go as far as to say that some of his very best friends were formed through NAFDMA.”
For Adrianne, much of the time since Mike’ passing has been a blur, “I miss him so much, he was the best person — the best father and the best husband.”
Memorial contributions may be made in Mike Dunn’s honor to Southern High School FFA, 4400 Solomons Island Rd., Harwood, MD 20776.