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Dallas CRE Leader, Mentor And Private Adventurer Dies In Small Plane Crash

The North Texas commercial real estate community lost a longtime leader in an airplane crash last week, Dallas-based national CRE investment firm The Rainier Cos. announced Monday.

Ken Dunn

John Kenneth “Ken” Dunn, who co-founded the company in 2003, was killed July 26 when the Bombardier CL 600 jet he was aboard went down in a heavily wooded area adjacent to the Truckee Tahoe Airport in Northern California. All four passengers and two crew members died in the crash, which remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and local officials, according to local newspaper the Sierra Sun.

“The Rainier family is deeply saddened by the loss of its co-founder, partner and friend,” Rainier President and CEO Danny Lovell said in a statement. “Our most heartfelt sympathies go to Ken’s family during this unbelievably difficult time. He will be terribly missed.”

Dunn co-founded Rainier with Tim Nichols in 2003 after previously co-founding Dallas-based real estate investment firm Meridian Realty Advisors in 1993. At both firms, Dunn was primarily responsible for acquisitions and capital formation, with involvement in real estate transactions totaling more than $3B over the course of his career at both firms, including multifamily, office, retail, hotels and skilled nursing facilities. 

Dunn served as executive vice president of The Hampton Real Estate Group from 1989 to 1993, managing assets for a portfolio with a market value of more than $1B. He began his career in banking in 1982 as a commercial loan officer with First National Bank in New Orleans and BancTexas in Dallas, handling middle market, real estate, and oil and gas lending. 

He held a bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University and an MBA in finance from the University of Arkansas.

Dunn was known in the industry for his enthusiastic mentoring of those starting out in the business, according to his obituary, and for his keen sense of adventure that included fast cars and motorcycles, sports travel with his father and sons, skiing, dirt-biking, taking helicopter trips in Nepal and boating, among other activities.

“As many people know, Ken had a big personality,” Rainier Cos. said in a release. “He was never hesitant to contribute his wit, humor and insight on any topic. Ken loved to engage people, make them laugh and bring them into his orbit for both business and personal friendship.”