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Rev. William David Puntney

Pastor, veteran

The Reverend William “David” Puntney died on March 26, 2013 at the Pilgrim Place senior community following complications from surgery. He was 75.

Rev. Puntney was born on November 8, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan to Ethel Gladys McMullin Puntney and Charles Edwin Doyle Puntney. He always held that being born in Michigan was the fault of the Great Depression, which brought his parents there from their native state of Missouri.

With the outbreak of World War II, young David and his family moved to southern California, where his father worked as a welder in the Long Beach shipyards. Once the war ended, his father and grandfather Puntney became partners in a walnut orchard in Chino, California.  It was there that he grew up, living the life of a farm boy.

He graduated from Chino High School, received an associate’s degree from Mount San Antonio Community College and continued on to Pomona College. After his father died, Rev. Puntney was left to finance his education, working for Pacific State Hospital, now Lanterman. He completed his junior year before enlisting in the US Air Force in July 1958.

He was sent to Texas for basic training and then assigned to the Yale University Institute of Far Eastern Language, where he spent the following year studying Mandarin Chinese. From there, he was assigned to the National Security Agency headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland where he completed his training.

In October 1959, he was assigned to the 7027th Radio Squadron in Onna Point, Okinawa. He was subsequently assigned to the Joint Services Security Base at Shu Lin Kou, Taipei, Taiwan and then, a year-and-a-half later, to Saigan, Vietnam. He was reassigned to command a mobile base located on a mountain, aptly named, “Monkey Mountain,” where he commanded a small detachment of linguists, intelligence specialists and air police.

From there, Rev. Puntney returned to Okinawa in December 1963. Following his tours of duty in Asia, he returned to Yale for more advanced training in Mandarin. He applied for reassignment as an intelligence specialist and was later transferred to Grand Forks, North Dakota and then to Aviano Air Force Base in Italy, where he spent 3 years supervising the intelligence office. He requested a discharge and was honorably discharged in July 1970.

Rev. Puntney next enrolled at California State Polytechnic University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in history. He completed a master’s degree in Western American Studies in 1976 at the University of California, Riverside. During this time, he was working as an archivist for the city of Riverside. He notably authored 2 publications in this capacity, SC Evans and the Movies Censorship in Riverside, California: 1910-1925 (1975) and, along with co-author John R. Brumgardt, Historical Portraits of Riverside County (1977). Following graduation, he was employed as an archives specialist with the National Archives’ regional branch in Laguna Nigel, California.

Rev. Puntney married Jeanette Vance Harris on July 23, 1977. Sadly, after just 2 years of marriage, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was called to teach at Chapman University, where he taught history while he completed his Master of Divinity degree. On March 15, 1982, he married Norma Marqueling Banman. She had 6 children, with one son still at home, so Rev. Puntney took on an entirely new profession as stepfather to a teenaged boy.

Rev. Puntney served his first pastorate at Upland Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) while completing his Master of Divinity degree. He served Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations in southern and northern California, as well as in Boonville, Missouri, where he enjoyed a growing church and served in many capacities within the city, including co-founding the “smallest affiliate of Habitat” in the United States. He and Mrs. Puntney also served from August 1995 to February 1996 as visiting pastor and choir director for the Maylands church in Adelaide, South Australia.

Rev. Puntney continued in full-time ministry until January of 2008, retired, then served as interim minister of Ramona Avenue Christian Church (DOC) in La Verne. He continued as their part-time pastor until December 2010. He also, in his later years, began writing short stories and poetry. In 2009, Rev. Puntney and his wife moved to the Pilgrim Place retirement community in Claremont.

A statement from the Ramona Avenue Christian Church reflects Rev. Puntney’s far-reaching impact: “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the family of one of the most incredible human beings we have been proud to call our pastor…His legacy will always live on in our lives and in our church community.”

Rev. Puntney is survived by his loving wife, Norma; by his sister, Rebecca Francese; by a nephew, Matthew Glaziner; by 6 stepchildren from his current marriage and by 2 stepchildren from his previous marriage; by 9 grandchildren and by 5 great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Pilgrim Place (www.pilgrimplace.org), 625 Mayflower Rd., Claremont, CA 91711, or to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), PO Box 96011, Washington, DC, 20090-6011.

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