“He loved everybody,” said Liv Dunn, Caleb Dunn’s younger sister at the memorial event hosted by Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) on Sunday, August 20, in Herndon Lounge. Caleb died suddenly in his sleep on Saturday, August 19, in his hometown of Corbin.
Caleb will be remembered for his work with the Student Government Association (SGA), involvement with ATO, love for African-American History, as an EKU student but most importantly for his friendship and love for others.
“Everybody knew Caleb,” said Sophia Dunn, Caleb’s younger sister.
Sophia said Caleb had lots of friends and she recalls their house would always be full of his friends. Even going out to the store was difficult with him because he would always talk to everyone, Liv and Sophia said.
“You couldn’t go to Walmart without him talking to everyone,” Liv said comparing him to parents who take a long time talking to their friends.
They also said if Caleb could be involved in something he would. Liv said Caleb once spoke to Congress while in high school, he met a Supreme Court justice and was very involved with EKU.
“He loved Eastern,” Liv said. “He loved his fraternity.”
Sophia said Caleb would talk about movies, he was smart and good at trivia. They said Caleb really care about the Corbin community and would try to bring awareness to the problems within the city.
“He was an all around good person,” Liv said.
Sophia and Liv said their favorite memory with Caleb was a time they painted his toenails while he was asleep on the beach and they didn’t have nail polish remover so he had one red nail all day. The sisters said even though everyone is sad and mourning the loss of Caleb, that’s not what he would want.
“Don’t be sad I’m gone, I’m still here with you,” Liv said is what Caleb would say to comfort his friends.
ATO’s current president, Jacob Waldecker, led the memorial and said the floor was open for attendees to speak about their favorite memories with Caleb. Various members of the fraternity and Caleb’s close friends took turns sharing memories with Caleb. At the end of the memorial, everyone stayed inside the lounge hugging and chatting about Caleb’s legacy.
“He made us feel better,” Waldecker said. “He knew how to calm everybody down.”
Waldecker said he met Caleb and became good friends with him while he was a desk worker at Sullivan Hall. Caleb was ATO president and turned his presidency to Waldecker in November.
Waldecker said his favorite memory of Caleb was how Caleb acted during the ATO sporting events. He said Caleb would rally everyone, get wild and cheer the group and crowd on but he would also be the one to calm everyone down.
“He always knew what to say,” said Dan Klapheke, ATO member and one of Caleb’s close friends. “I just miss him.”
Klapheke said he became friends with Caleb because they would write together and have late night conversations while working in Burnam Hall; Caleb would talk about African history and the Appalachian Region.
“Listening to him was a treat,” Klapheke said. “The university and lots of people are going to miss a part of their heart.”
One speaker who attended the event was President Benson, who admitted he did not know Caleb very well but worked with him a few times.
“The times I associated with him was funny,” Benson said. “He was a larger than life character.”
Benson said to further honor Caleb and all he did for the EKU community, the university is setting up a fundraiser for a scholarship in Caleb’s name. The scholarship will be awarded to a student from his hometown. Additionally, Benson said, EKU is looking at different ways to raise money for the family.
“Caleb was his own person,” said Katie Scott, former SGA president and one of Caleb’s closest friends. “He owned who he was.”
Scott said the first time she met Caleb was when she was an honors residence assistant in Palmer Hall. She met Caleb on his first day and they got to know each other better when he joined the SGA, Scott said, Caleb was really interested in student court so she introduced him to the previous chief justice.
Scott said they worked together for 3 years and would spend late nights chatting in Caleb’s office. She added that Caleb knew all of the gossip since he was friends with everyone. Outside of SGA, Scott said they had lots of classes together.
Specifically, Scott said she remembers Caleb often falling asleep at the front of the class they had together. She said his head would roll onto his chest and he’d snore, after a few instances he moved to the back of the classroom.
“Caleb was by far one of the smartest people,” Scott said.
She explained that Caleb was especially passionate about African history. Among other things he loved was Greek Life and being part of the ATO chapter, Scott said.
Caleb was one of the founders and became president of ATO prior to graduating. Scott said she has many memories with Caleb but one of her favorite memories with him was when she rapped the first song in the Hamilton album and Caleb being genuinely surprised – Scott added it was usually difficult to surprise him – and told everyone in the office she could rap.
Scott said she remembers taking him to his first sorority banquet and Caleb reading the obituary he wrote for when Scott was graduating and no longer SGA president – a gesture she now finds “ironic.”
“The best thing about Caleb was he was selfless,” Scott said.
Caleb was very comforting and cared for everyone else, Scott said. He wouldn’t want people to be sad and wouldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, Scott said. She added he comforted people and automatically put everyone at ease.
“Caleb was irreplaceable,” Scott said.
Jean Arthur, administrative assistant, worked with Caleb during his time with the SGA. Arthur said she first met Caleb when he became part of student court. She said she remembers being concerned when he became part of student court, because as soon as he was appointed they had a case.
“The first court case showed me that he was on the ball,” Arthur said. “It showed me that he was really intelligent.”
Arthur said since Caleb was so new and thrown into the position that was the first time she realized how smart and fair he was. She added that Caleb was not afraid to say what he thinks, had a sense of humor and was outspoken.
“It was fortunate he and I agreed on almost everything,” Arthur said.
Arthur said he was always supportive, a respectful and well-rounded individual but expected too much of himself. He often took heavy course loads and spent a lot of time in his office often being in the room until 2 a.m. studying and writing papers, Arthur said. She added that they would often tease him for taking heavy course loads and for snoring during his power naps.
“We thought a freight train would come into our office and it was just Caleb taking a nap,” Arthur said.
Caleb was helpful towards her and especially his family. She said in the summer he would stay home to watch his siblings because that would be the best way to help his family.
“He tried to do his best,” Arthur said. “We’ll always miss him.”
Director of African/African-American studies program and professor of history and African studies, Oegchi Anyanwu said Caleb would never be forgotten.
“For me it’s a personal loss,” Anyanwu said. “He feels like a brother not just a student.”
Anyanwu said he had known Caleb since 2014 because he participated in three of Anyanwu’s classes. He said Caleb was very interested in Africa and African history and they would spend time talking about Africa together.
Caleb was a loving fellow, loved people of all colors and was very tolerant to people’s viewpoints, Anyanwu said. He added that Caleb had a spirit of empathy and would always try to put himself in other people’s shoes.
“He accepted me,” Anyanwu said. “I became his friend immediately.”
Anyanwu said he remembers Caleb wrote a paper about South African apartheid and was inspired to find a cause to change the world. Caleb wanted to find a movement and Anyanwu said he always told Caleb to find a cause even if it was in his small town.
“He felt he could do something that could bring change in the life of people,” Anyanwu said.
Caleb was very selfless, funny, happy and bright person who was always eager to ask questions, Anyanwu said. In February, Caleb sent Anyanwu an email to discuss his interest in attending graduate school and studying 19th and 20th century African history because Anyanwu was the one who inspired him to study and one day educate others in the topic.
Anyanwu said he felt honored that Caleb said this about him and how driven Caleb was to study African history.
“He has a very good soul,” Anyanwu said adding that Caleb left a legacy and will never be forgotten.
Visitation for Caleb was Wednesday, August 23 at Hart Funeral Home in Corbin, and funeral services followed the next day. To show support for the family, donations can be made to the Caleb Dunn Memorial Scholarship Fund through University Development CPO 19A, EKU, or through the website www.development.eku.edu.