Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bill Bunis turned from tennis, became sociology professor

Youth champ also was jazz expert

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

William K. Bunis, a professor of sociology, a jazz scholar and a former Cincinnati youth tennis champion, died Monday in Tucson, Ariz., of a rare form of cancer. He was 49.

Known as "Bill," he was the middle son of Alvin W. Bunis of Indian Hill, founder of the Tennis Grand Masters and older brother of ATP Tour player Henry Bunis.

"Anyone who has ever swung a racquet in Cincinnati knows the Bunis family," said Phil Smith of the Western-Southern Masters and Women's Open. "It's a very tennis-rich family from local to international circles."

Considered the most talented of the three Bunis sons by International Tennis Hall of Fame member Pancho Segura, Bill Bunis had no interest in tennis as a profession and became an educator instead.

"One of the greatest players in history - when he first saw Bill - said that he thought he was the most talented in the family," Al Bunis Sr. said. But he chose to pursue an academic career.

He excelled in that arena also.

On the faculty of the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences since 1996, Dr. Bunis was a "legendary teacher, a trusted colleague and a good friend who will be sorely missed by all of us," said sociology department head Mark Chaves.

The University of Arizona presented Dr. Bunis with the 1992 Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award. That award has been renamed the William K. Bunis Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Dr. Bunis grew up in Cincinnati, where he attended Cincinnati Country Day School. He was also a student at the Fessenden School in Boston before graduating from Middlesex school in Concord, Mass.

He was Cincinnati tennis champion in the boys 12-and-under, 14-and-under, and 16-and-under divisions.

Dr. Bunis received a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Arizona.

An expert in all forms of jazz, he left his collection - which includes several thousand recordings - to the University of Arizona music library. "It's considered renowned," his father said. "It was of such stature that the university wanted it. It's a significant thing."

His knowledge of jazz history was "absolutely encyclopedic," according to his father.

He played tennis recreationally until his health no longer permitted it.

In addition to his father, survivors include his mother, Ann Bunis of Indian Hill; a daughter, Hannah, 15, and a son, Joshua, 12, both of Flagstaff, Ariz.; two brothers, Henry Bunis of Groton, Mass., and Alvin W. Bunis Jr. of Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.; and a sister, Catherine McDonough of Charlotte, N.C.

A memorial service is 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Arizona Inn in Tucson. Burial will be at the Indian Hill Church Episcopal-Presbyterian Church. A graveside service is pending.

Memorials: William K. Bunis Jazz Library Collection Fund, University of Arizona Foundation, c/o Samuel T. Huang, P.O. Box 210055, University of Arizona Library, Tucson, AZ 85721; or William K. Bunis Graduate Student Teaching Award, University of Arizona Department of Sociology, P.O. Box 2210027, Tucson, AZ 85721.


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