By Maya Dawson, Conifer High School
Conifer High School chemistry teacher Brian Bunnell was known by students for his booming laugh and love for the outdoors. He was the first to volunteer at school pep assemblies and inspired many students to pursue careers in the science and medical fields.
Bunnell, 44, died in a Dec. 26 avalanche on Berthoud Pass while backcountry snowboarding with his three sons, who survived. All four were caught in the Grand County slide.
Bunnell grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, where he competed on the Fargo North High School swim and cross-country teams. His father remembers a state swim race during this time.
“When he started to overtake his opponent, his teammates started yelling, ‘Go, Brian, go,’” Ron Bunnell said.
Soon, everyone at the swim meet joined the chant: “Go, Brian, go! GO, BRIAN, GO!”
Brian won the race, but it was only the beginning of a lifelong love of adventure, many of which he shared with his family. Brian and his wife, Kelly, were high school sweethearts.
“We have been married for 20 years,” Kelly said. “He was the love of my life. He was hilarious, he had the best laugh, and this is hard.”
Brian graduated from Duke University and taught chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry at Conifer High School for seven years.