Michael Patrick "Mike" Dunne
Dunne inspecting a wetland in undated photo
|Died||July 8, 2007 (aged 58)|
|Alma mater||Louisiana State University|
|Occupation||Newspaper columnist and environmental journalist with The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate|
University adjunct professor
|Spouse(s)||Freda Claire Yarbrough Dunne|
|Children||William Bradford Pipes Dunne|
Dylan William Dunne
|Parent(s)||William Victor Dunne and Geraldine Helen Kussman Dunne|
Michael Patrick Dunne, known as Mike Dunne (June 21, 1949 – July 8, 2007), was a newspaper reporter, author, and professor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who later specialized in conservation issues. He exposed the dangers of "Cancer Alley", a term used to refer to Louisiana's petrochemical corridor. It was cancer that would cause Dunne's own death at the age of fifty-eight.
Dunne was born in New Orleans to William Victor Dunne (1914–1997) and the former Geraldine Helen Kussmann (born 1918). He served in the United States Army and earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in 1974 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He worked for newspapers in Alabama, Florida, and New Orleans, as well as The Alexandria Daily Town Talk in Alexandria. He was a second assistant city editor on the former Baton Rouge State-Times. He moved to general reporting and the copy desk at The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate in the early 1980s. He became an investigative reporter for WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge but in 1993 returned to The Advocate. He also taught journalism as an adjunct professor in the Douglas Manship School of Mass Communications at LSU.
Dunne won journalism awards for general assignment reporting and coverage of the police, courts, education, city hall, and the environment. In the late 1980s, Dunne and The Advocate reporter Bob Anderson received national honors three times in a year for stories on coastal erosion and a series on air pollution. Dunne was a two-time winner of the Scripps-Howard Foundation's Edward J. Meeman Award, named for a prominent Tennessee journalist. In the spring of 2007, with his health in decline, Dunne received the first "America's Wetland Conservationist of the Year" award for stories on threats to the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
A founding member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, Dunne was co-author of the book America's Wetland: Louisiana's Vanishing Coast with photographer Bevil Knapp. R. King Milling, the chairman of America's Wetland Foundation, said that Dunne had a "no-nonsense approach to reporting on the issue of coastal land loss."
The Morning Advocate reporter Amy Wold described Dunne as "an amazing mentor to me because his knowledge of environmental issues in Louisiana was so extensive. ... He's well known and respected nationwide. He's been a really good teacher and friend."
Himself an Eagle Scout, Dunne was a volunteer with Istrouma Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, having served as council vice chairman of programs. He worked with Alcoholics Anonymous and as a board member of the O'Brien House in Baton Rouge.
Dunne underwent chemotherapy for his cancer. His body was cremated. Memorial services were held on July 11, 2007, at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. His ashes were distributed by his sons at his favorite places. Dunne's friend and environmental-issues colleague Robert McClure of Seattle, Washington, described Dunne as "all about helping others. He had a big heart, an open source list, and a hearty word of encouragement for any reporter who turned to him for help."
In addition to his mother, Dunne was survived by his wife, the former Freda Claire Yarbrough, New Media Director at The Advocate; sons, William Bradford Pipes Dunne of Monterey, California, and Dylan William Dunne of Baton Rouge; two sisters, Kathleen Lee Dunne Galliand and her husband, Ronald Victor Galliand, of Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish, and Deborah Lee Dunne Brennan and her husband, James Christopher Brennan, of Raleigh, North Carolina; three nephews, and two great-nieces.
Dunne was the third The Morning Advocate news staffer to die in 2007. Capitol bureau chief John LaPlante drowned in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, Texas, on April 14; Laurie Smith Anderson, author of "The Patient Person" column, died on May 9 after her battle with cancer, and Dunne succumbed on July 8 from the disease.
- Ed Cullen, "The Advocate Reporter Mike Dunne has died", The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, July 8, 2007
- Mike Dunne, "Chemist Helps Louisiana Communities Monitor Polluters", November 11, 2000, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate
- Mike Dunne, Federal judge denies landfill request, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, August 16, 2006