Mel Bullinger

Mel J Bullinger

1937 - 2020

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Obituary of Mel J Bullinger

Dear Family and Friends

This is Mel Bullinger giving you my last communication. My story is like so many in our country. I was a grandchild of courageous and hard-working immigrants, Germans who arrived by way of Russia to the U.S. around 1900. I was born in Mandan, North Dakota on 10/25/1937 to Margaret and Mathias Bullinger. Times were hard and at three and a half years old, after the failure of our family farm, my parents and I traveled to Idaho with only a car, our suitcases, and $38 to our name. At times we were essentially homeless, living for months at a time in a relative’s enclosed porch in winter or a shared, small shack with other family members. At age five, after my dad failed the physical for the WWII draft, we moved to Washington and settled in South Tacoma. My little sister Carolyn joined us and I spent my childhood surrounded by my extended family and my 20-odd cousins who I ran the neighborhood with.

I attended Visitation Catholic School where I served as altar boy, sang in the choir, and met my beautiful future bride Barbara in 1st grade class. Following Visitation, I attended Bellarmine Preparatory School, an all-boys school at the time. I played saxophone and clarinet in a German band alongside my dad and uncle. German was the spoken word in my home. My life was full and good.

A strong work ethic was engrained in me by my family. I was a paper carrier for the “Tribune” as a young boy and then worked in the local Thriftway grocery store. I was a car guy and disciplined saver, the latter of which enabled me to buy my beautiful first new car, a 1955 green and black Plymouth Belvedere. It was in this car that I was literally stopped in my tracks when driving down South Tacoma Way and saw Barbara Srsen at a corner bus stop. I asked her if she wanted a ride home and she said “yes!” Our first date was to the local drag races. We kissed that night and I knew instantly that she was the one.

After two years in the Army and two years at UPS, I married my lovely Barbara on 10/24/1959. I always told her she was my best birthday present. I had begun to learn the construction trade from my father who was a fine craftsman and I worked alongside him for many years before going out on my own. History was kind to us as my son Rand joined me in construction and we worked alongside one another for many years as well. I count this time with Rand as one of my greatest joys. I was a craftsman, a musician, and a self-taught architect. I’d like to think of myself as a humble, creative man who designed and built beautiful homes throughout the greater Puget Sound area for many families. I am proud of this lasting legacy I’ve left behind in the community that I loved.

My Barbara and I were very different people but we shared many loves and interests. We traveled the world together, we loved movies, books, collecting treasures, building and decorating our beautiful custom homes together, “running the streets,” and sharing Friday night dates for sixty years. Our home was a haven, a place of joy and hospitality where all were welcome

My biggest treasure however was bringing into the world our three children, Michelle, Elise and Rand and I am so grateful in turn that they found wonderful life-long partners in Denny, Curt

and Venus. In addition to my children, my pride and joy are my amazing grandchildren who I love so deeply: Hannah, Brenna, Simone, Andy, Bryan, Seth, Grayson, Brady, and Noah.

So now, after a difficult three-year battle with my failing mind and body, I am released from these burdens and I have gone home to be with my love Barbara and all of my family and friends who left this earth before me. Thank you for sharing my wonderful life and making it full and so, so good. – MJB

After much consultation with friends and family, we have decided to postpone our dad's 3.28.2020 funeral and reception to a later date due to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak and the likelihood of it impacting public gatherings in Pierce County in the near future.  We plan to regroup when it's clear that this virus has run its course and celebrate our dad well without this anxiety or public health risk for our guests. 

Mel’s family extends our sincere gratitude to the staff of Hearthside Manor and Franciscan Hospice for their skilled care, compassion, and support of our dad.

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