Team Leader, Local Healer

Courtesy Palo Alto Medical Foundation/Drake Lewis

With 1:48 to play in the 1972 Rose Bowl, Stanford trailed unbeaten Michigan 12-10. That’s when Don Bunce took over.

The senior quarterback—his blond hair flapping out the back of his helmet—completed five straight passes to lead Stanford from its own 22-yard line deep into Michigan territory. A 31-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining clinched the improbable win, and Bunce was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Years later, the former No. 11 was still synonymous with Stanford football. An orthopedic surgeon with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Bunce served as the Cardinal’s team physician for more than a decade.

Donald Randy Bunce died April 15 in Santa Cruz, Calif., of a heart attack. He was 54.

Born in Redwood City, Bunce attended Woodside High and arrived at Stanford on a football scholarship in 1967. For three years, he played sparingly while backing up Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett, ’70. In 1971, Bunce led Stanford to a 9-3 record and a second straight Pac-8 title.

Selected by the Washington Redskins in the 11th round of the 1972 NFL draft, Bunce opted instead for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. But his true passion was medicine, and after a single season, the onetime human biology major enrolled at Stanford Medical School.

Bunce is survived by his wife, Jennifer; his son, Cameron; his daughter, Mikele, ’99; his parents, Carole and Sid; three sisters, Cheryl, Linda and Pam; and two brothers, Gary and Steve. His first wife, Diana, ’70, died in 1987.