Sergeant John Thomas Hunkler (1944-2023)


John was born June 28, 1944, the oldest child born to Theodore (Pete) and Mary Hunkler. He lived in West Chester most of his life. His mother served 20 years as a volunteer with the Union Township Fire Department Auxiliary.

John joined the Union Township Fire Department at the age of 18. By 1971, he was the President of the Union Township Fireman’s Association and later elected Trustee. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1973. Lieutenant Hunkler was re-elected President in 1975. He was then promoted to Captain in 1976. 

His brothers, Theodore, Thomas, and Ronald followed him into the Union Township Fire Department, and his sister Mary onto the Union Township Life Squad. His cousins included West Chester Fire Chief Tony Goller, Evandale Police Lieutenant William Goller, Cincinnati Police Specialist Daniel Middendorf, and Northern Hills Fire Chief Michael Hauser.

After 19 years of firefighting, in 1982, Captain Hunkler joined the Union Township Police Department as a Dispatcher. In 1984 he was appointed Patrolman. On June 30, 1995, he was promoted to Sergeant. Union Township, on June 28, 2000, changed its name to West Chester Township. Sergeant Hunkler retired about 2006 and took a position as Police Technician. He finally retired in April 2015 with 53 years of service to his township.

Sergeant Hunkler was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, member of the Hamilton Safety Council, and district representative, treasure, vice president, and president of the Ohio Crime Prevention Association.

After battling several illnesses over the last few years, Sergeant Hunkler died peacefully, surrounded by family at the West Chester Hospital, on September 13, 2023

He is predeceased by his brother, Ted Hunkler; sisters-in-law Pat Hunkler and Patty Hunkler; and brother-in-law, Raymond Shelly. Officer Hunkler is survived by his wife of 53 years, Darlene Rae (Shelley) Hunkler; children, Timothy John Hunkler, Michele Rae Hunkler, and Matthew Paul (Lisa) Hunkler; grandchildren, Jacob, Alex, Rose, Lucy, and Max; siblings, Tom, Mary, Judy (Jim), Ron (Wyvona) and Larry; and brother-in-law, Mike (Carmen) Shelley.

Visitation was held and a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated on September 21, 2023 at St. John the Evangelist Church.

Memorials may be made in Officer Hunkler’s memory to the Evan Huxsoll Memorial Scholarship Fund or The Shield.

We have just recently found out about Sergeant Hunkler’s death and apologize for this late obituary.


© 2023 – All rights reserved to LT Stephen R. Kramer RET and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum

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