Cover photo for Dr. Michael J. Dunn, M.D.'s Obituary
Dr. Michael J. Dunn, M.D. Profile Photo

Dr. Michael J. Dunn, M.D.

March 21, 1936 — November 29, 2021

Dr. Michael J. Dunn, M.D., 85, passed away peacefully on November 29, 2021 surrounded by his loving family where he celebrated a wonderful life for the last 22 years with his wife Patricia. He was an amazing father to his children Kathleen (Ron) Dunn, Brian Dunn, Michael (Melissa Buschey) Dunn, Margaret (Roger Watson M.D.) Dunn-Watson and Colleen Nunn. He was a fun-loving and incredibly generous grandfather to Eileen and Tyler Dunn, Cormac and Liam Dunn, Elin Hummer-Dunn, Fiona and Piper Nunn, Meghan Weiss, Cliff and Michael Watson and Aidan Dunn and a great granddaughter, Juniper Weiss.

He is survived by his siblings, James Dunn, Mary Eileen Allen, and Kevin Dunn.
Michael was preceded in death by his brother Cassim Dunn, his daughter Kathleen Dunn and his wife Patricia.

Michael was born in Milwaukee, WI on March 21, 1936, to Cornelius and Florence Dunn. He married his wife of 60 years, Patricia Eileen O’Reilly on August 20, 1960, at St. Charles Church in Hartland, WI.

Michael’s wonderful sense of humor and gentle ways will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. His smile was infectious. Even during the most difficult times with his illness, he made people laugh and he never lost the ability to turn a challenging situation into a moment of humor and humility.

Michael was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. His passion for adventure, great food, spectacular wine, exceptional jazz music, and for his family gathering together created more than 40 years of memorable family reunions. He was an avid cyclist, took his family on adventures around the world to experience new cultures and beautiful landscapes, he especially loved being in the mountains skiing. For the past 22 years, he gathered his family multiple times a year at his home on Nagawicka Lake for water skiing, boating, and wonderful dinners on the deck enjoying unforgettable sunsets. His family is forever indebted to him for instilling these values of ‘creating memories’ and the importance of family being together.

Michael’s career transported himself and Patricia all over the world for wonderful excursions and travel adventures - wines, cheeses, bicycling, skiing in the Alps, and of course, Paris. He was an avid adventure traveler from Nepal to New Zealand, Alaska to Patagonia, he pursued the unknown and kept challenging himself to experience the beauty of this planet. He knew that life was precious and relished making the most of every moment.

Michael was one of the few to be in the “Three M” club - Marquette University High School (1954) Marquette University(1958) and the Marquette University School of Medicine (1962). He relentlessly pursued knowledge and the advancement of academic medicine, basic sciences, and clinical studies.

Upon graduation from medical school in 1962, Michael was the recipient of the Millmann Award, the institution’s highest honor for a graduating medical student. Dr. Dunn served an internship and residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He then took a nephrology fellowship at the University of North Carolina. Then he spent three years in military duty as a research scientist and clinician studying malaria at the Walter Reed Army Hospital & Institute of Research in Bethesda, MD.

After completing his time at Walter Reed he moved to Burlington, VT. He spent 8 years as Assistant Professor of Medicine, Co-Director of the Nephrology Unit, and then as the Associate Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont. During this time he took the opportunity to move his family to Paris, France for a sabbatical year doing research at Hôpital Necker and Institut Pasteur. This time in France provided a unique opportunity for travel and immersion into French culture. His family will forever be grateful for this time learning the French language and traveling all over Europe as a family of 7 in an old converted Citroën ambulance!

After Vermont, Michael’s career brought him to Cleveland, OH where he spent 14 accomplished years at The University Hospitals Of Cleveland. In Cleveland he served as Division Head of Nephrology, and he had clinical responsibilities while also running a vibrant scientific lab. He also served as the Associate Director of the Department of Medicine and then as the Acting Chair of the Department of Medicine. His love for research science and travel took him back to France where he was a visiting scientist at the Centre de Biochemie at the Universite de Nice for one year. This provided the perfect destination for him and Patricia to welcome many family and friends and share their love of Southern France and all it had to offer.

Michael came full circle by returning to Milwaukee in 1995 to become Dean and Executive Vice President of the Medical College of Wisconsin, his alma mater, until his retirement in 2008. As one of the longest-serving medical school deans in the nation, he vastly expanded MCW’s research footprint which elevated MCW on the national stage. Funding to MCW from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) increased more than 200 percent during his tenure as Dean, enabling MCW to rank in the top third of all U.S. medical schools for such funding. Upon his retirement, Michael was named Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Medicine.

Over the course of his career, he published nearly 200 original papers and authored or co-authored more than 50 chapters or textbooks on nephrology and hypertension.

He was a past president of the American Society of Nephrology, and one of the nation’s few Medical School Deans to maintain an active research lab with continuous NIH funding for more than 35 years.

Michael has been honored by every institution for which he is an alumnus. He was elected to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, named Marquette University’s Distinguished Alumnus in the Arts and Sciences, and was a recipient of Marquette University High School's Alumni Merit Award and MCW’s Distinguished Service Award and named MCW/Marquette Medical Alumni Association’s Alumnus of the Year Award.

Philanthropy and charitable giving were always a priority for both Michael and Patricia, they generously supported the local Arts, Doctors Without Borders, homelessness prevention, and improving educational opportunities for all, to name just a few. Locally they established a Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation which supports local community non-profits. Additionally, Michael believed that improving chances for academic success for the Latino Community was extremely important which meant supporting both the Notre Dame School and Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee.
“Milwaukee’s been good to us. I feel a debt to the education system and, in a sense, to the community.”

Michael was lovingly served for the last 2 years by his caregivers Grace, Sandra, Monique, Rosita, Ruth, Megan, and Joy. The family has immense gratitude for the compassionate, meticulous, and professional care they graciously provided to ‘Doc’.

Visitation will be held at Saint Teresa of Calcutta in North Lake, WI at 9:30 am, funeral mass at 11:00 am on Friday, December 17, 2021. A celebration of life for both Michael and Patricia Dunn will immediately follow where we welcome your attendance to share memories of two beautiful lives well-lived.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be given to:
-Milwaukee Rescue Mission, 830 N 19th St, Milwaukee, WI 53233-1616
-”Class of 1962 Fund in honor of Michael J. Dunn, M.D.” at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Office of Development, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53266/online at
-Doctors Without Borders, PO Box 5022, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5022

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Michael J. Dunn, M.D., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, December 17, 2021

9:30 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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St. Teresa Of Calcutta - North Lake

W314 N7462 Wisconsin 83
Hartland, WI 53029

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Add to Calendar

St. Teresa Of Calcutta - North Lake

W314 N7462 Wisconsin 83
Hartland, WI 53029

*Standard text messaging rates apply.

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


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