Walter T. Dunston, 78, of Philadelphia, a retired dentist and U.S. Navy captain, died Sunday, March 9, at Jeanes Hospital of complications from a stroke.
Born in Williamsport, Pa., he was active in sports at an early age and played organized baseball and basketball. At age 12, he was a member of the first Little League World Series championship team in 1947.
"From the World of Little League Museum in South Williamsport: We are so sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Dunston, even as we celebrate his very full life," Lance Van Auken, who is affiliated with Little League in South Williamsport, wrote in an online tribute.
While a student at Williamsport High School and Lycoming College, Dr. Dunston was a starting guard on the basketball team at both institutions. He later was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, West Branch, for his prowess in basketball.
After graduating from Lycoming College in 1957, he enrolled in Temple Dental School in Philadelphia. He married the former Constance Fisher in 1958.
Dr. Dunston received his dental degree from Temple in 1960, and served with the Navy Dental Corps on the aircraft carrier Hancock from 1964 to 1966. He was honorably discharged from active duty with the rank of lieutenant, but remained in the Navy Reserve dental corps.
Dr. Dunston set up a private dental practice in 1966 in Germantown before moving to Wynnefield in 1978. He retired in 2011. "The older patients didn't want to give him up," said his daughter Michelle M. Golden.
In 1977, Dr. Dunston was appointed captain in the Navy Dental Corps, and he rose to commanding officer of reserve dental units at the Philadelphia Naval Base.
He served as a member of the promotions board at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for the Pentagon in Washington from 1978 to 1990.
In addition, he was a member of the Second Congressional District Naval Academy Selection Board from 1979 to 1985. He retired from the Navy Reserve with the rank of captain during a special ceremony in 1990.
Dr. Dunston was an associate professor at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania Dental Schools. He served from 1967 to 1977 as chief of dental service at the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, a former psychiatric facility.
He was a trustee for Lycoming College from 1985 to 1988 and a member of the Philadelphia County Dental Society, New Era Dental Society, and the American Dental Association.
Surviving, besides his daughter, are sons Walter Jr. and Mark A.; another daughter, Connie L.; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. His wife, from whom he was divorced, also survives.
A life celebration is set for 10 a.m. Friday, March 28, at John F. Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Rd., Philadelphia, followed by a memorial service at noon at Givnish. Interment will be in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.
Memorial donations may be made to any charity.