Richard J. Jagunic, 71, a dedicated educator, talented artist, and loving partner, passed away on Friday, November 24, 2023, at the Community Hospice Truman House. He was born on July 14, 1952, in Lorain, Ohio to the late Peter and Yolanda Leskovich Jagunic. Richard was also preceded in death by brothers, Daniel and Larry Jagunic and an infant brother. He touched the lives of many through his teaching career and involvement in the arts.
After graduating from New Philadelphia High School in 1970, Richard pursued his passion for knowledge at the University of Miami. In 1974, he earned his bachelor's degree and embarked on a remarkable journey as an English, Speech, and Drama teacher.
In 2016, Richard retired from Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School after dedicating an impressive 41 years to shaping young minds and nurturing their artistic talents. He was passionate about enriching his students' understanding of literature and guiding them through the intricacies of the English language. Additionally, Richard's commitment to fostering creativity led him to establish the Drama Department at TCC.
Richard's impact extended beyond the walls of his classroom. He enthusiastically shared his expertise in directing, choreography, set design, and construction with various theater communities. His creative contributions enriched productions at Little Theatre, Hudson Players, Berea Summer Theatre, Trumpet in the Land, and Theatre West Virginia in Beckley. Richard also lent his choreography and directing talents to Tusky Valley, Dover and Carrollton High Schools while showcasing his set design skills at Welty Junior High School and New Philadelphia High School.
In addition to his career achievements, Richard co-founded and wrote for Mr. E Murders Murder Troop starting from 1992. His devotion to bringing stories to life on stage was evident not only through teaching but also through these theatrical endeavors. He also found fulfillment in designing and remodeling houses, where his impeccable taste flourished.
Richard embraced life outside of work as well. He treasured spending time camping and traveling with loved ones. Amongst their cherished traditions was an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas, having done so for the past 30 years. These adventures allowed Richard to unwind, create lasting memories, and revel in the company of those he held dear.
Richard's legacy will forever live on in the hearts of his surviving family and friends. He leaves behind his beloved husband of 46 years, Richard “Sonny” Sonnhalter, with whom he celebrated six years of legal marriage on July 11, 2017. Richard also leaves behind his sister Judith (Mark) Dummermuth and brother David (Jennifer) Jagunic, both residing in New Philadelphia; and many nieces and nephews. Additionally, he is survived by thousands of great friends and former students.
Cremation has been entrusted to the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home and Crematory at Dover. A celebration of Richard's life will be held at a later date.