EACH of his five children kissed him goodbye, followed by his wife, then Joe Gunn quietly slipped away in the early hours of this morning (Thursday).

The 69 year old from Florencecourt, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live, passed away surrounded by those he loved the most, his family have announced.

“Our hearts are breaking and our lives will never be the same again,” said Pam, his wife of 32 years.

Mrs. Gunn, who described her husband as her “best friend and soul mate”, told The Impartial Reporter this morning that she hopes he is now at peace following his intense battle with cancer.

“I know he will be looking down on us,” Mrs. Gunn said, paying tribute to her husband and his strength, resilience and openness in discussing his illness so frankly in the hope of helping others.

Just weeks ago Mr. Gunn gave a heartfelt interview to this newspaper in which he discussed his health and hopes for his beloved family once he was gone.

He gazed into his wife’s eyes as they looked back on a photograph from their wedding day.
“She’s amazing, she really is,” he said. “There is 19 years between us, only for her I’d be gone long ago,” said Mr. Gunn.
It was just last December when the couple who were both diagnosed with cancer within 11 months of one another “defied the odds” by beating it.

“It’s back to hell again,” said Mr. Gunn.
“There is nothing I can do about it. I am still hoping that it mightn’t take me for a while yet.”
The couple's 24 year old son Grant has also been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, the third time the family has been hit by the disease in 18 months.
Mr. Gunn admitted that death did not frighten him and had already planned his funeral.
“Everybody has to do die, you can’t get anybody to do it for you. I still believe there is an afterlife; my mothers, sisters, father, you know, they’ve gone before me. Hopefully they are there to meet me.
“I have it all sorted out with the Minister, where I want to be buried,” he said, deciding on Inishmacsaint Parish Church in Derrygonnelly where his parents Joseph and Edith were laid to rest.
Mr. Gunn had undergone a triple bypass, a heart transplant and was the first heart transplant patient in the world to go through major surgery and survive. His wife called him a fighter.
He recalled being told the news by the consultant at Belfast City Hospital a couple of months ago that he was dying.
“In one sense, I wanted to know, on the other hand you don’t want to know,” he said.
“If I dropped down now that’s it. Whereas if you are waiting, am I going to go at 12 months or do I have another 12 months? After that it will be more of a guessing game,” said Mr. Gunn.
“When we came out of that cancer centre I went to pieces,” said Mrs. Gunn, “Joe was consoling me.”
The couple had to try and remain composed as they returned to ward 10 where their son continues to receive treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
“I pray every night. I pray that the children are looked after, that Grant gets through this,” said Mr. Gunn.
Over three decades later and the couple said they never had a row.
“Meeting Pam and marrying her is my happiest memory,” said Mr. Gunn, recalling how he had met his “best friend” all those years ago over CB radio in which he christened her ‘Love Bug’.
“She was away to get ice cream, I said I’d love an ice cream, just for something to say. The next thing I know up came trouble with a 99 ice cream,” he laughed.
And a love and friendship was born.
“It’s about being best friends, we appreciate life,” smiled Mrs. Gunn.
The couple have five children; Kim, Dale, Hayley, Grant and Graham who along with his wife Sarah welcomed their first child Samuel into the world four months ago.
“I wanted to live to see my first grandchild so I got to see that, I wanted to see that,” he said.
As the interview concluded, Mr. Gunn had this advice for little Samuel and the rest of his children once he was gone: “I want them to look after themselves, to live life and enjoy it. You only get one chance.”