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John L. Gunkelman

John L. Gunkelman, 1973, Businessman, Community Servant, ND Beta of SAE House Corporation

When Judy married John, she probably didn't know that she also had married the fraternity house. As a contractor, John had the skills to attend to the frequently failing systems of the house, and as such he would be called upon in evenings and weekends to attend to some recent calamity. Over time, John's family recognized that he maintained two residences: His own as well as the fraternity house. After the completion of the fund drive, John took a lead role in spearheading the chapter house renovation project. John was born in March 19, 1951 to John L. and Mary L. (McCannel) Gunkelman in Fargo, ND. He grew up in Fargo and attended Fargo South High School graduating in 1969. He attended North Dakota State University (NDSU) graduating with a major in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Construction Manage-ment in 1974. John married Judy Blake in 1974, and they have made their home in Fargo. 


Capitalizing on his engineering degree, John was attracted to the hands-on work of construction. He worked as project manager for Apollo Construction, concrete and utility contractor for Master Construction and was superintendent/project manager for Twin City Construction before founding Dakota Construction in 1986. Since its founding, the firm has grown from one employee to fifteen full-time and three part-time employees, and the firm focuses on a mix of high-end custom homes with residential and commercial remodeling. To advance his career and knowledge of the construction industry John has received various certifica-tions, trainings, and licenses, most recently including Certified Graduate Builder Designation, Certified Green Professional, Certified Graduate Remodeler, and LEAD Certification. 


John has been a member of the Home Builders Association since 1992, and has held positions of director, president, Education Committee member, Public Issues Committee member, Plan Management Committee trustee and past president, Remodelers Council member, and PAC Committee member. In addition, John has been active with the North Dakota Association of Builders (NDAB) including serving as State President, State Director, PAC Contributor, Education Committee Chair, Governmental Affairs Committee member, Non Dues Revenue Task Force member, and By-laws Task Force member. John has also been active with the National Association of Home Builders (NDHB) including being Life Director, Professional Builder, Custom Home Builders Committee member and Symposium Committee member, Design Committee member and Training Spokes-person. John has been recognized by his peers by numerous awards including: Home Builder of the Year (three times), State Builder of the Year (twice), and the Fargo South High School Hall of Fame.  


Beyond his professional service, John contributed his construction and leader-ship skills as well as supplies to a variety of community projects such as YMCA Camp Cormorant, YMCA Partner in Youth Team Leader, Gladys Ray Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Renew House, NDSU President's House, Special Olympics, South High Halloween Party, North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, Fargo Moor-head Chamber of Commerce, Gamma Phi Beta Sorority at Minnesota State Univer-sity-Moorhead, Red River Soccer Board Member and Past President, Pepsi Soccer Complex, Remodelers' Council Ramp Project, and Sts. Anne and Joachim Church. Another of John’s passions in life has been his involvement with the ND Beta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Along with Ken Lougheed, John spear-headed the $1.2 million remodeling project and donated all of the project manage-ment fees. As his wife Judy noted, John's commitment to the fraternity began when he was an under graduate member: “As a student he was very involved at the chap-ter house from working in the kitchen to serving terms as house manager and president. This has continued after college with his work at the chapter as a member of the house corporation board since 1979 and with the maintenance of the house.


For several years one of his goals was renovating the house so SAE would continue to have a strong presence at NDSU. He is very proud of the fact that this renovation is almost complete. He enjoyed renewing old friendships during the process as well as building stronger bonds with the present members at the house. John will always express his love for the brotherhood and the life-long skills of leadership, scholar-ship and service that it not only taught him but continues to teach the young men of SAE today.”  


Beyond his career, community service, and service to the fraternity, John enjoys spending time with his family-snow skiing, water skiing, snowmobiling and biking. John and Judy have four children: Sarah, Moorhead, MN, graduate of University of Mary; Andrew, Parker, CO, a graduate of the University of North Dakota; Molly, Minnetonka, MN, a graduate of NDSU; and Jeffrey, Grand Forks ND, a graduate of the University of North Dakota. John is being inducted into the ND Beta of SAE Alumni Hall of Fame for his 32 years of service to the house corporation, for the countless times he responded to phone calls from active members at all hours and days of the week to take care of yet another urgent crisis involving the physical facilities, and for his efforts in spear-heading the renovation of the chapter house. We also thank his family for their un-derstanding and appreciating John's commitment to his fraternity.

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