William Ransom Johnson Dunn, Jr., known throughout the industry as simply Billy Dunn, was born in 1917.
At the time of his birth, both his father, William Ransom Johnson Dunn, and his grandfather, Evans Johnson Dunn, were alive and leading Dunn Construction Company. In 1948 when WRJ Dunn died, Billy Dunn became the third generation President of the company, which had been founded 70 years earlier.
Billy was a graduate of Washington & Lee University in 1938 and he earned a law degree at the University of Alabama.
He then was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy and served on a minesweeper in the Pacific Theatre in World War II before being transferred to the Seabees and serving out his military duty on Navy construction projects. The most notable was Millington Naval Air Station near Memphis on which Dunn Construction was a joint venture partner for the construction of their new Naval Air Base.
Following his military service, Billy Dunn joined his family’s business and in 1948, upon the death of his father, he became its President.
Dunn continued to perform projects for the military in Alabama in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and continued its road building and asphalt paving business, which dates in Alabama all the way back to approximately 1915.
In 1954 Billy was President of the Alabama Road Builders Association. The company, through the balance of Billy Dunn’s career, remained active in the road building business in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi up until the time of his death in 1977.
It is notable that, with the further passage of time, Dunn now holds the lowest construction license number in both Alabama and Mississippi, and the company was active for many years prior to licensing requirements. 2003 will mark the 125th consecutive year of responsible contracting for Dunn.
During his career, Billy Dunn was a Director of Exchange Security Bank, which evolved into the First Alabama Bancshares and is now Regions Financial Corp. He was also a board member of Guaranty Federal Savings & Loan, which became part of SouthTrust.
In addition, he was active in a number of civic endeavors, most notably serving as Board Chairman in the early years of the Cooper Green Hospital and also Board Chairman of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Billy Dunn was an avid quail hunter and in the early 1950’s he and fellow road construction industry associate, Houston Blount, enjoyed sharing ownership in a Field Trial Champion Setter at the old Maytag Plantation near Union Springs. This is a sporting event with which many in the road construction industry can associate.
At the time of his death in 1977, Billy Dunn was survived by his wife, Beverley White Dunn, and two daughters, Mary Dunn French and Lucy Dunn Blount, now Lucy MacLeod.
At the time of this writing, Billy is also survived by eight adult grandchildren, and two members of this fifth generation in the Dunn family business now work in affiliates within the Dunn group of companies.
The Dunns are lifelong active Episcopalians and Billy was Senior Warden of St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands in Birmingham in 1957.