Pastor John Unthank: Father to many passes away

Susan EspirituOur Town Neighbors

On Father’s Day, June 16, the community lost a surrogate father figure in Pastor John Unthank who passed away at his home surrounded by his family.

The Dream Center’s social media posted, “Pastor John’s love for all those in the community was evident through everything he did to uplift and strengthen those in the school system. He was instrumental in creating our Make a Teacher Smile program as he wanted teachers and students to know that they were not forgotten and that God loved them very much. From writing letters of encouragement for teachers, to donning his iconic Mr. Crayon outfit and reading to students, Pastor John’s legacy will be one that will not only be remembered but will be present through all those he reached.”

After learning of his passing, area schools posted condolences to their social media and local media broadcasts recognized Pastor Unthank’s many years of service to the community.

 This piece below is borrowed from his obituary here: Pastor John Eric Unthank

“John found a passion as the Title I Schools Liaison for The Knoxville Dream Center, blessing Knox County teachers and students with supplies, books and weekly encouragement. John’s signature humor and bent toward silliness quickly led to him becoming known as “Mr. Crayola Man,” an identity he took on when he donned a crayon box costume to deliver supplies to schools. Always eager to spread joy and laughter, John embraced many costumes over the years: from an orchestra conductor to a Polar Express train conductor, a Thanksgiving turkey to the Cat in the Hat, he brought stories and activities to life for children with his colorful characters and playfulness. Still, no matter how many other personas he had, he would always be best known for his box of crayons.

“While serving with the Knoxville Dream Center, John delivered much-needed school supplies to some 500 dedicated educators in Knoxville’s at-risk elementary schools with the Make a Teacher Smile program. Also, through KDC’s Book Mobile, he distributed thousands of books to children in Knox County. He has read to hundreds of students in more than 60 local classrooms, and his commitment to promoting early reading and fun led him to be recognized by the Knox County Public Library and United Way of Greater Knoxville with the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Seeds of Literacy Award in 2022.”

A celebration of life will be held on Monday, July 8, at Park West Church Dutch Valley Campus, 1416 Breda Dr., Knoxville. A time of fellowship will take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by the service at 7 p.m. Memorial donations can be made to Knoxville Dream Center’s Make A Teacher Smile campaign.

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