John Michael Fundukian of Flat Rock, NC and Northville, MI passed away on June 14, 2022 at
the age of 80. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Jean (Jeanie) to whom he was
married for 55 years, and was the proud and loving father of Laurie, Julie, and John (Melissa)
and grandfather to Leah, James (Jay), William and Paige. He was returning to North Carolina
from Michigan, where he enjoyed visiting family, attending Leah’s graduation, spending precious
“track time” at meets, attending a concert in the Palmer Woods neighborhood of Detroit and
enjoying a family vacation at Lake Michigan.
His parents John and Aroxie Fundukian immigrated to the U.S. when they fled the Armenian
Genocide, and his Armenian heritage was something John was very proud of–he was thankful
to be able to grow up in “two worlds” as they kept their traditions and lived the American Dream.
He read extensively and studied the Genocide (he wrote a self-published booklet for the 100
year anniversary in 2015: “Forget Me Not”). He was the baby of four siblings: Anita, Mae and
Howard and enjoyed his role as uncle to many.
He was a very accomplished athlete, excelling and winning championships in track, basketball,
and football in high school at Highland Park High School, and went on to continue his athletic
accomplishments at Adrian College, from which he and Jeanie graduated (and where he was a
member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity). He held a record for running the 100 in track at
Adrian for 52 years that was only “tied” in 2016, not broken. He recently won gold in the same
event in the senior games in North Carolina. Physical fitness was very important to him his
whole life and he liked to influence others. He enjoyed swimming, hiking, biking (especially on
Hilton Head Island as recently as March 2022) and lifting weights.
He was a dedicated educator and track coach, and then an administrator, starting his career at
his home district of Highland Park, then teaching and coaching in Walled Lake before he took
over the position of Athletic Director. He finished his career as the Director of Physical
Education and Athletics for Novi Schools. He was honored by both Highland Park and Adrian
College with “distinguished alumni” awards for his outstanding work; he was named “coach of
the year” for the state of Michigan in 1971 and the Detroit Free Press featured him. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Adrian College in 2003.
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, he was a life-long learner who had an
undergraduate degree from Adrian College and a Master’s degree in psychology from Wayne
State. He enjoyed teaching and was a wonderful role model for many. He had a special gift for
making students think and explore the meaning of life. His children would often run into former
students of his who would always speak highly of him. Even after he retired, his “teacher/coach”
instincts never left him. In his very special neighborhood, Highland Lake Village in Flat Rock,
NC, he conducted many workshops on history, gardening, and art (he had a very impressive
stained glass collection and was featured last year in a NC publication highlighting that.) Much
of the collection is rescued stained glass from Detroit homes and landmarks, and he was always
willing and able to share the history with lectures and tours. He was incredibly talented and
energetic and shared his talents with others.
He enjoyed 20+ years of retirement and lived life to the fullest with a mixture of fun and helping
others. He was able to travel many places with Jeanie and his family, including Alaska, many
countries in Europe (including Russia), all of Canada and special parts of the U.S. like Sedona
and Williamsburg, VA. He helped his children with special projects on their homes and was very
active in the social scene in Highland Lake Village. The friendships formed in his neighborhood
were incredible and made his later years even more special. When Jeanie was ill, he was a
dedicated caregiver for her at the end of her life in 2019, something for which his children will be
In recent years, John spent much time reflecting and writing and shared a collection of his
beliefs and favorite quotes, which he entitled “I Believe…”
Here are a few favorites: “Anyone who never fails to see an opportunity to help someone
without ever needing anything in return is supremely rich because the soul always gets paid.”
“Nothing can fill your heart like the love for their mother, you, and each other, and the hugs of
He led a wonderful life full of experiences, hard work and special relationships and his influence
will live on in many hearts; he genuinely was one of a kind.
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