By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]
Longtime Alexandria resident and Republican political activist Loree Gunn died Nov. 15 of kidney disease. She was 76.
After a successful career as an administrative assistant on Wall Street, primarily at Weeden & Co., Gunn moved to Alexandria in the late 1970s, where she quickly became involved in local Republican organizations and campaigns. After George Allen was elected Governor of Virginia in 1993, Gunn moved to Richmond to work in his administration. She served as special assistant to Secretary of the Commonwealth Betsy Beamer.
“Loree Gunn was always a smiling, cheerful person of sunshine at all times,” former Gov. Allen said in a statement. “Loree was a loyal, smart and dedicated special Allen Team leader who we especially relied upon in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office finding the best people to serve on boards and commissions as well as promptly acting to assist all the people of Virginia. Everyone who was blessed to know Loree Gunn loved her.”
Terri Hauser, former head of the Alexandria Republican City Committee who also worked in the Allen administration, praised Gunn’s work in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.
“She was such a people person that she was a great ambassador for the administration,” Hauser said.
Gunn’s sister, Carla Ochs, said Gunn greatly enjoyed her time in Richmond.
“I think she absolutely loved it,” Ochs said. “I think one of the things that, I think that George Allen was really good to her. She enjoyed her time there very much. … I think that whatever she did, she went whole hog.”
Long-time Alexandrian Jane Ring cited Gunn’s exemplary work ethic.
“She was an incredibly hard worker,” Ring said. “She was very, very detail oriented. … She had her finger in everything. She was always a hard worker for Connie [Ring, former Alexandria City Council member].”
Hauser said Gunn was one of a group of women who helped keep the local Republican party together. Gunn also helped coordinate and track delegates for George H.W. Bush as he was running for president.
“I was impressed by how organized she was,” Hauser said. “She worked so tirelessly and she worked so well with other campaigns. She was absolutely incredible in her work for that campaign.”
In addition to her attention to detail, Gunn was known for her fierce loyalty.
“You could kind of feel the New York [Gunn’s hometown] in her,” Hauser said. “She was like a locomotive moving forward. Just steaming ahead. If she believed in you, she believed in you. … People who liked George Allen, she would do anything for. Once she was on your team, she was on your team.”
Current ARCC chair Sean Lenehan described Gunn as someone who was willing to do the unglamorous and often thankless tasks that are vital to political campaigns.
“Loree’s passing leaves a hole unfillable by any single human being. She was so often the unsung hero behind the scenes of an activity. Loree rarely received adequate appreciation – and never sought credit – she truly was, as Connie Ring describes her, a gem whom we already miss, and whose friendship we will forever treasure,” Lenehan said in a statement.
Jane Ring and Hauser said Gunn continued to find ways to contribute, even after her health began failing from kidney disease, and she had to receive dialysis treatments three times a week.
“When she got to the point that she couldn’t be as physically active, she would find other ways to help,” Ring said. “The Scottish walk and parades, she couldn’t go and walk, but she would keep Republican headquarters open so they could have coffee and stop by.”
She cited Gunn’s fun-loving nature and capacity for friendship.
“She just loved to be with people. She had a ton of friends,” Ring said. “She liked nothing more than a good joke. She was one terrific person and one terrific friend. And you couldn’t do any better than that.”
Gunn was born Dec. 25, 1941 in New York City. Her family later moved to White Plains, New York, where she grew up. She graduated from Michigan State University.
Despite her diminutive size – she was less than five feet tall – Gunn was very athletic in her youth and studied physical education. After working as an administrative assistant on Wall Street, she moved to Alexandria and worked for the National Science Foundation in the same capacity.
Gunn is survived by her sister, Carla Ochs; her brother-in-law, Jeremy Bernstein; her niece, Sara Ochs Addeo and her son-in-law, Jake Addeo.
Following cremation, a memorial service will be held at a later date.