Ernest Clifford Gunn, 81, passed away Monday, January 28, 2019 in Windham Hospital, Willimantic, CT. Ernest had been battling pneumonia and several other health problems due to diabetes. He was born in New Haven on June 6, 1937 to Clifford and Jane (Betts) Gunn. Ernest was good-natured and had a great sense of humor, which he never lost. Through poor health and surgeries, he remained cheerful. He received a Bachelors degree in music education from Western CT State University, and later his Masters and sixth-year degrees from Southern CT State University. He taught music and 5th grade in North Haven public schools for 37 years. In his teens Ernest was a member of the Order of DeMolay, and was the organist for their meetings. Also a member of his church youth group, he would go on camping trips with Park Ranger Fred Rungee and other group members in the woods of Bethany. Ernest was later a Good Humor ice cream vendor, and a Macy's white flower assistant manager at nights and during summers. He also served as a coach for his son's Little League baseball team. An avid philatolist, his stamp collection was large and fine. His travels took him to London, Greece, Italy, Alaska, France, and Sweden. On a second trip to Sweden, he studied Swedish music at Uppsala University. A man of many talents, he enjoyed ice dancing, doing crossword puzzles, and was an excellent cook. He was also a voracious reader and an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan. For nearly twenty years, Ernest was the music director of the Hamden Festival Chorus. He later became the music director/conductor of the American Union of Swedish Singers (A.U.S.S.), an international singing society. This brought him across the U.S. to music conventions and concerts, sometimes with 400 voices joining him onstage. To honor this service, the Swedish government and the A.U.S.S. presented him with three medals. Having a rich bass singing voice, he joined the New Haven Chorale and sang on the New Haven Schubert stage in the opera Il Travitore. Ernest also sang at New Haven's Woolsey Hall in Benjamin Brittan's Requiem with a combined voice choir under the direction of Robert Shaw. Surviving Ernest is his wife of 33 years, Betsy Schumacher Olsen Gunn, formerly of Hamden and currently of Ashford, CT; his son, William Harlow Gunn (Amanda Mitchler) of Branford; grandchildren, Carolyn, William, Meredith, and Delaney Gunn; stepchildren, Stephen Olsen (Jennifer Clark), Christine Olsen Gillikin (Bryan); and step-grandchildren, Alexander Gillikin (Sara), Elisabeth Gillikin, Silas Olsen, and Eliza Olsen, as well as his loving nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers, Robert and David Gunn. Friends may visit with his family on Friday, February 1 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Beecher & Bennett Funeral Home, 2300 Whitney Ave., Hamden, and are also invited to attend his funeral service on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. in Christ Lutheran Church, 600 Shepard Ave., Hamden. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ernest's memory may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 15829, Arlington, VA 22215.

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  1. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of Ernie. He married our next door neighbor, Betsy Olsen many years ago and was welcomed into the neighborhood. After many years of living next door, Betsy and Ernie moved to the northern part of Connecticut to be closer to her children. Rest in peace, Ernie. Joyce Goldberg

  2. Mr. Gunn was a wonderful teacher. He had a great sense of humor and always had a smile on his face. He left a memorable impression on me. One time he had the class learn about reading instructions. That was one lesson I will always remember.
    My most sincere and heartfelt condolences.

  3. Mr Gunn was my music teacher at North Haven Junior High in 1963. I was in music class and we were singing This is my land, this is your land when a PA announcement came on saying President John F Kennedy was shot. Will never forget that day or him. Rest In Peace Mr Gunn.

  4. Mr. Gunn was my 5th Grade teacher at Clintonville Elementary in 1996 (his last year teaching). When I think back on all of the teachers that I’ve had throughout my life, Mr. Gunn is easily in the Top 5. I’ve always had a love of history and Mr. Gunn definitely fueled that interest. I’ll always remember reading about topics such as the Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc., and he would add his own interesting facts that weren’t listed in the text book. I loved writing reports for him about the History of Locomotives, Mummies and even a biography report about Michelangelo. I also remember that he was passionate about traveling and I loved seeing his vacation slides, especially of his travels to Italy. My wife and I went to Italy for our honeymoon this past summer and I made sure to visit places that he taught me about. I was moved to tears when I visited the Sistine Chapel; I had wanted to visit it since writing my Michelangelo report in his class. I am a teacher myself today. I am in my 11th year of teaching instrumental music for West Haven Public Schools. After reading his obituary, I realize that we were so much alike. We shared a love of history, art, music, travel, and cooking. I am so surprised to learn that he went to WestConn (my alma mater) and was originally a music teacher like me. I remember that he was very musical, but I never knew that he was certified to teach music. Mr. Gunn had a profound impact on me and helped to make me the man that I am today. I will forever be thankful to have had him as a teacher. I only hope that I can inspire students the same way that he inspired me.

  5. Mr. Gunn was my 5th grade teacher at Temple St. School and was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. His love of music and his calm demeanor will always be remembered. The piano in the room was his way of incorporating music into the class. My sympathies to his wonderful wife Betsy and his son. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  6. I’ve had the pleasure to be Ernie and Betsy’s dental hygienist for close to 20 years.
    Ernie was a kind, sweet soul with an unflagging sense of humor. Despite enduring several years of chronic and significant pain that made it sometimes very difficult for him to sit comfortably for any length of time during his appointments he never complained. Often, in fact, his grimaces were quickly followed by a funny quip which served to put us both at ease. That’s just the kind of person he was and he’ll surely be missed and remembered by all who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, Ernie.

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