Biographical / Historical
Raised in Gregory, Texas where his mother served as the postmistress, Dr. John Tunnell attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville as a premed student. He went on to graduate from Baylor Medical School in 1942. While there, he met and married fellow medical student Rosalie Newman. After graduation, Dr. John joined the U.S. Army Airforce and served at Keesler Field in World War II. The Tunnells returned to Taft, Texas after the war and established their medical practices. They were known as “Dr. John,” and “Dr. Rose.”
The Tunnells were known for their dedication to their medical service and for their numerous civic contributions. Dr. John was a family physician, his primary interest was obstetrics, he delivered thousands of babies during his practice. Dr. Rose practiced in pediatrics. Dr. John was involved as a youth in Eagle Scouts and continued as a leader for the organization. He was a member of the Services Clubs throughout his life. Dr. John was a Mason and served on the Taft school board for many years, serving as president for several years. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Taft Hospital, serving as chief of staff for many years. He was a member of the county, state, and national medical societies.
Dr. John had an avid interest in history and collected coins, stamps, barbed wire, Indian artifacts, and other historical memorabilia. He became the president of Taft’s Blackland Museum that chronicles the development of the San Patricio County area. He began to collect books on Texas in the early 1950’s. After Dr. John was forced to retire from practice because of illness, he contributed his time and energy to the museum. He organized the collections, he built most of the furniture and fixtures in the museum and he supported the museum financially. Additional the Tunnells provided funds for many students who did not have the money to go to college. He was a naturalist and loved the outdoors. Dr. John died on December 14, 1999.