Dr. James  Dunlevy

James H. Dunlevy, 94, of Walker, Minn., formerly of Fairfield Iowa, passed away Thursday, April 8, 2021, at his home surrounded by loving family members.

He was born in Hillsboro, N.D., on July 17, 1926, son of James and Ovidia (Thorstead) Dunlevy. He graduated from Fargo Central High School in 1944, then immediately began service with the U.S. Navy at age 17 in World War II.

Following the war, he made good on an offer to play football at University of Iowa, where  he earned his  pre-med  degree in 1947. He resumed his studies at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, earning his medical degree, as president of his class, in 1951. Following residencies at University of Iowa and University of Minnesota, in 1953, Dr. Dunlevy established the Fairfield Clinic in Fairfield, Iowa, with  two classmates, Dr. Jack Morgan and Dr. Chris Palchef. He provided medical care for the Fairfield community for 40 years until his retirement in 1993.

Dr. Dunlevy married his sweetheart from junior high days, Allie Lu Phelps, on June 12, 1949. She preceded him in death in 2017. They were married for 68 wonderful years, raising three daughters, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was a loving, caring husband and father who was actively involved with his medical profession, family and community.  Through  the busiest years of his career, he always made time  to attend his daughters’ music and sporting events.   He was a lifetime supporter of  women’s equality.

As a small town family doctor, he delivered over 4,000 babies, performed hundreds of operations and procedures, cared for multiple family generations, and even made house calls. He always wanted to provide the best personalized care possible.

Dr. Dunlevy not only advised his patients to become physically active to improve their health, he regularly “tasted his own medicine.” An active participant in Fairfield’s Park and Recreation programs, Dr. Dunlevy  routinely played flag football, basketball, fast-pitch softball, tennis and golf. Often his teammates were half his age.  He once looked around a softball diamond and realized he’d delivered everyone else on his team, as babies. He was known for having “the sharpest elbows” on the basketball court and cherished the nickname, “Dr. Dink” when playing tennis. Among his prized possessions are many trophies earned by various teams for winning league tournaments.

Faith was an important part of Dr. Dunlevy’s life. He  was member of First Lutheran Church in Fairfield, and with his wife, established a scholarship for member youth to further their college educations. He was a member of Hope Lutheran in Walker at time of death. Dr. Dunlevy served on many church-wide councils, committees, and task forces at the local, synod, and national levels.

Other community activities involved Fairfield School Board (two terms), Community Concerts, and Rotary International. A talented musician, Dr. Dunlevy sang in his church choirs and played a mean trombone in a Fairfield Dixieland band.

Dr. Dunlevy and his wife retired to family property on the shores of Leech Lake, near Walker in 2006. He is preceded in death by his wife Allie Lu; his parents; and sister Lorraine Nelson.

Survivors include daughters Lucinda (Geoffrey  deceased) Cave, Cleveland, Ohio, Janey (Joe) Paterno, Portland, Ore., and Amy (Stephen) Odgren, Walker; grandchildren Britta (Mark) Holland, Mound, Matthew (Julie) Cave, Rochester, Molly (Scotty) Crow, Atlanta, Allison (Joe) Kelly, Plymouth, Tony (Hana) Paterno, Portland, Amy Cave (Nate Horning), Cleveland, and Nils (Jacki) Odgren, Missoula, Mont.; great-grandchildren Jimmy Holland, Louie Paterno, and Alex and Teddy Cave.  

If desired, memorials may be sent to:

First Lutheran Church

Dunlevy Scholarship

201 W. Briggs Ave.

Fairfield, Iowa 52556


Hope Lutheran Church

305 10th St. S.

Walker, MN 56484

Condolences may be sent:

C/o Dunlevy

7383 Boulder Shore Trail NW

Walker, MN 56484

To plant a tree in memory of James Dunlevy as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

Recommended for you

Load comments