Cover photo for Doreen Marie Gunkel's Obituary
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1965 Doreen 2023

Doreen Marie Gunkel

May 14, 1965 — July 27, 2023

El Paso, TX

Doreen Marie Gunkel of Los Alamos, New Mexico, a retired Physics Technician at Los Alamos National Laboratories passed away on July 27, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of dedication and compassion.  Born on May 14, 1965 in Orange, California, she touched the lives of countless individuals throughout her career and personal life.  She is survived by her husband, William Knight, her children, Jeffery Conway, Bruce Rust, Russell Rust and Samantha Rust, her grandchildren, and countless friends she touched along her journey.

In her professional life, Doreen’s work consisted of protecting workers at nuclear power stations from exposure to radiation.  Later in her career she was active in many state and federally funded cleanup projects, including many of the sites from the Manhattan project.  She eventually came to work at the National Laboratories, first at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, and finally at Los Alamos National Laboratories where she retired.

In her personal life, Doreen was known to those in the Society for Creative Anachronism as Lady Dairine Ingen Niall of Oak Hill, to those from the CosPlay community as "Mama Cos.", and to those in the Royal Manticoran Navy as Lady Dame Doreen Gunkel, Countess White Lion.

After retiring from the laboratory, she started working on her dreams. She started the Greenland Gown Research Project, investigating the origins, construction and sources of the wool and techniques used to make 13th century Norse clothing.  

In 2013 she became involved with the CosPlay community after discovering that the CosPlayers had no support network at the Science fiction Conventions they attended, and declared “Someone should do something about that…  Wait, I just volunteered, didn’t I?” This resulted in the creation of the CosPlay Rest and Repair room in 2014, a concept she created, implemented, and taught others how to replicate.  

She was also heavily involved with the charity work of The Royal Manticoran Navy, a science fiction fan club based on the works of David Weber. Though the RMN she worked on projects including Big Brothers & Big Sisters funding drives, cleanups, and flag placements at the local National Cemetery, as well as annual Toy’s for Tots campaigns which over the course of her involvement raised well over 100, 000 dollars’ worth of toys for the needy.

She was a pillar of strength and love for her family and friends. She was a beacon of light for all who sought solace in her friendship within the many communities she built and nurtured. Her warm smile, kind words, and empathetic nature were the hallmarks of her character. She possessed an innate ability to make others feel valued and heard—a gift that endeared her to many.

Her journey came to an end in El Paso, Texas after complications from ongoing medical conditions but her spirit will forever live on in the memories of her surviving family and friends. Though she may no longer be physically present, her legacy will continue to touch lives and serve as a reminder of the power of dedication, compassion, and love.

As we mourn the loss of Doreen, let us also celebrate the extraordinary life she lived. She made a lasting impact on this world through her work, her relationships, and her unwavering spirit. May her soul find eternal peace, knowing that she left behind a world made better by her presence. 

“She lived life fiercely.”

Services entrusted to Sunset Funeral Homes-Northeast -

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