In Memoriam – Roderick L. Bunnell

Bunnell, Rod (David)Bunnell, Rod (2013)[Updated 1/10/17]

Roderick L. Bunnell passed away on October 1, 2015 in Portland’s Good Samaritan Hospital –the same facility where he was born on August 4, 1930.

Rod lived in Hanford, Yakima, and Hood River while growing up, then attended Whitman College in Walla Walla and served briefly in the US Army before returning to Portland. He joined Oregon Physicians’ Service (OPS Blue Shield) as a claims analyst following his 1955 marriage, remaining with the firm for his entire career. He retired from Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon as general counsel, corporate secretary, and a major architect of the then-newly-formed Regence Group. A 1968 graduate of Lewis & Clark College’s Northwestern School of Law, he often represented Blue Cross Blue Shield in state and national legislative matters.

Rod was active in many civic groups including the Washington County Public Affairs Forum, Washington County Historical Society, Cedar Mill Community Library, Beaverton School District, and Cedar Hills UCC. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed mountain climbing, backpacking, cycling, and cross-country skiing.

Like his father (Clarence O. “Bun” Bunnell, author of Legends of the Klickitats) , he maintained a lifelong interest in Northwest history, especially that of its native cultures.   Later in life, he made a point of writing down many of the stories Bun had told over the years, and also of setting down a number of his own reminiscences.  A few of these accounts appeared in local newspapers or other journals during Rod’s lifetime, including “That Country Lawyer“, in a 2004 issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.

He is survived by his wife, Sally McMillan Bunnell, sons John (Portland) and David (San Pedro, CA), daughter-in-law Jenna, and two grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at Cedar Hills United Church of Christ on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Rod’s name to Whitman College, Lewis & Clark Law School, or Cedar Hills United Church of Christ.

If you have memories of Rod, you’re both welcome and encouraged to share them below.


  1. Rod was a friend of Whitman College with his wife Sally. also, he and Sally came as a couple to almost every Civil War Roundtable monthly discussion at Portland State University. Recently this year, Rod gave a presentation about the Rebel Yell. His insight and good nature will be missed by colleagues.

  2. Rod will be missed. He was active in the Washington County Public Affairs Forum for many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally, and sons John and David. Thank you for all you gave to your community! Peace.

  3. Rod was a great friend and co-worker when we were all at OPS. He was always available to give a rational perspective when it was needed. He definitely took the long view when trying to give insight regarding where health care delivery was headed. He will be missed.

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