Local businessman & philanthropist JR Dunn passes away

Posted on 24 May 2021 by JLusk


JR Dunn at Dunn’s Run (Photo by David Volz)










The Observer is sorry to report the passing of local business man and philanthropist Jim (better known as JR) Dunn. Dunn was instrumental in the community. His Dunn’s Run, a 5 K walk/run, 5 mile run, brought out huge crowds to the beach yearly to participate and watch, all benefitting the local Boys & Girls Club. He also founded JR Dunn Jewelers. He was a staple in the community who always loved giving back. He will be missed.


James R. Dunn, Co-Founder of J.R. Dunn Jewelers and philanthropist in the South Florida community passed away on May 21, 2021 at the age of 78.

Jim Dunn, Massachusetts native, founded J.R. Dunn Jewelers in 1969 with his loving wife, Ann Marie Dunn—and continued the family business together alongside their son, Sean Dunn, growing it into one of the most successful omni-channel family-owned jewelers in the county.

Those who knew Jim knew him as one of the kindest most genuine souls, most dedicated workers, and most of all someone who would do anything for anyone. “My Dad was the type of guy whose life experience helped so many people, no matter what they needed. Whether they had a little car trouble in the parking lot, needed help paying their rent, or just a shoulder to lean on he was there. You could always count on Jim Dunn”, said Sean Dunn. 

Jim could also make you laugh like no other, always sharing a great joke to make sure you enjoy the deepest laugh. His passion for life, family, and his business were infectious and always inspired one to do better. He was an invaluable leader to anyone who had the opportunity to work with him, with wisdom that only his years and life experience could bring. Many will say because of Jim, they are a better person, and it is true.

Jim came from the humblest of beginnings, which had a lasting influence on the way he later lived his life and cared for his community. He lost his Dad when he was just seven years old, leaving him and his brothers in the care of his hard-working mother. She often had to work double shifts as a visiting nurse just to put food on the table and care for their family. This is where Jim’s incredible work ethic originated from, as well as his desire to give back to those who need it most.

His entrepreneurial beginning started when he was young running a paper route, where he learned to deliver the product to customers for the first time. After graduating from the University of Bridgeport in 1966, he began working for IBM as a salesman where he found much success and soon met his wife and future business partner, Ann Marie Dunn.

What the couple once began as the House of Gems in a quaint older home in Hanover, Massachusetts, J.R. Dunn Jewelers has now become an over 8,000 square foot luxury jewelry and timepiece destination in Lighthouse Point, Florida with a team of over 40 dedicated people and successful e-commerce business on jrdunn.com. 

Jim was so incredibly proud of the business he and I built together. It showed in his passion for moving the business forward each and every day from the most important strategic initiatives right down to the simplest of tasks, like stocking the water bottles or making the shipping boxes. No job was too big or too small for Jim Dunn and I look forward to continuing on his legacy”, said Ann Marie Dunn. 

During his career, Jim had achieved many accolades including the Sun Sentinel’s Excalibur Award in 2002 for Small Business Leader as well as being inducted into the NSU Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. The company was also honored with Luxury Jeweler of the Year in 2015, celebrating its milestones and forward-thinking endeavors.

Giving back to the community was something incredibly near and dear to Jim’s heart, with his and Ann Marie’s many initiatives for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, the Humane Society of Broward County, and many other different philanthropic causes supporting our military, veterans, and first responders.

In 1996, Jim founded the iconic Dunn’s Run, a 5k walk/run and 5-mile run benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, which has raised over $3 million dollars in its duration. This year marks the 25th Annual Dunn’s Run, a momentous milestone that he was so proud of, and will be dedicated to celebrating his honor. Jim’s favorite moment of Dunn’s Run was always seeing a huge American flag raised above Deerfield Beach from the fire truck. He loved that it was an event built around family for people of all ages, from the young future of our community to its experienced elders.

Jim (on right) with wife Marie and son Sean. (Submitted photo)

Jim is survived by his loving wife, Ann Marie Dunn; son and daughter in-law, Sean and Viviana Dunn; beloved grandchildren, Nico and Briana Dunn; and many other family members who will carry on the legacy Jim built.

A celebration of life will be held in his honor at a date to be announced.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity near and dear to your heart or one close to his; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County. 

To see more photos & video, visit the Observer Facebook page by clicking here.

For more info., visit https://jrdunn.com.

You can donate to his favorite cause, the Boys & Girls Club, using this special site they have set up:  https://www.bgcbc.org/jim-dunn

Jim Dunn at MS Gala. (Photo by Rachel Galvin)


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