Iowa Hawkeye basketball hearts are heavy, and so are many in the southwestern Indiana city of Newburgh.
Dr. Mark Nunge of Newburgh died suddenly last Saturday. He was 53. He was the father of five, including Iowa basketball player Jack Nunge.
Jack won’t be with the Hawkeyes when they open their 2020-21 season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday at 3 p.m., against North Carolina Central.
“Really an amazing guy,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Monday about Nunge’s father.
“Saturday was a very somber day for us.”
“I was absolutely devastated for (Jack),” said Hawkeye teammate Jordan Bohannon.
“The main thing we need to be is just being together and making sure we’re there for him and continue to be there for him.”
Mark Nunge was an emergency medicine specialist at Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Newburgh, outside of Evansville. KaLeigh Moore is a registered nurse at Deaconess. She wrote the following on Facebook Saturday and gave The Gazette permission to use it:
“He was known for walking into a room and sitting on the foot of the patients’ beds. He would sit there and just listen to them, never rushing them to get to the point or in a hurry to leave their room, but he also never sugarcoated anything with his patients.
“One of his most recent rants had been on how the ER doctors could help conserve PPE so the nurses could have more of what we needed. So he got it approved that the doctors only had to wear one pair of gloves when going into an isolation room, instead of two pair like they had been doing.
“My first patient yesterday morning was with Dr. Nunge. He immediately came out of the room after examining the patient and knew something was really wrong. He immediately found me and got things moving. His quick response saved her life.
“I will forever be grateful and cherish that I was blessed to work your last shift with you, Dr. Nunge, and that I got to watch you save lives one last time.”
Mark Nunge played basketball at the University of Rochester. His wife, Beth, was a basketball and volleyball player at Central College. Oldest daughter Rebecca played volleyball at Notre Dame and is now in medical school. Daughter Jessica is a sophomore volleyball player at Florida State. Jack also has two younger brothers.
Mark Nunge formerly worked at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His family lived in Iowa City until Jack was in fifth grade, then moved to Newburgh.
Jack Nunge and Luka Garza joined the Hawkeyes’ program in 2017 and were roommates as freshmen.
“Heartbreaking, devastating,” Garza said Monday. “Just horrible.
“We’re going to circle around Jack and just try to build him up, and hopefully when he comes back, make him feel at home and make him feel a little bit better.”
“I did not know (Mark) well,” said Frank Garza, Luka’s father. “but what I did figure out right away was his deep commitment to family, community, and his oath as a medical professional. I consider him a hero as he, day after day, did what was required and a whole lot more that we are only now understanding.”
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