Stanley R. Gunther, Pearl Harbor Survivor

November 28, 2009|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN

Stanley R. "Pete" Gunther Sr., a Pearl Harbor survivor who later went on to a two-decade Navy career, died Nov. 19 of heart failure at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

He was 92 and lived in Lodge Forest, near Edgemere, for many years.

Mr. Gunther was born and raised at Fort Howard and later earned his General Educational Development certificate from Sparrows Point High School.

Mr. Gunther, who quit high school, enlisted in the Navy in 1934 and was serving as chief boatswain's mate aboard the repair ship USS Vestal, which was moored alongside the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

"His ship took two bomb hits. Later, when he was helping to pass ammunition topside, the Arizona blew up," said a daughter, Janet M. Gunther, of Springfield, Va.

Though he was not wounded in the attack, Mr. Gunther's hair, eyelashes and eyebrows were burned off while he fought fires aboard the vessel and attended to the wounded.

The captain of the damaged Vestal was later able to move his vessel away from the Arizona, which was in flames.

Mr. Gunther, who served aboard the attack cargo ship USS Whitley during the rest of World War II, remained in the Navy and attained the rank of chief petty officer at the time of his 1954 discharge.

He then worked for 20 years in the tin mill at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant until retiring in 1979.

Mr. Gunther was a member of the Edgemere Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Moose Lodge.

His wife of 57 years, the former Anna M. Dancho, died in 2003.

He was a communicant of St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church in Edgemere, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Monday.

Also surviving are a son, David Gunther of Parkville; another daughter, Donna L. Brigman of Catonsville; and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by another son, Stanley R. Gunther Jr.

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