James E. Kuntz

James E. Kuntz

Madison – James E. Kuntz passed away April 4, 2012 at Oakwood Village-West in Madison, Wisconsin.

Born in August 14, 1919 in Leipsic, Ohio the son of Edward Charles and Bessie (Sherrard) Kuntz – both now deceased.

After graduating from Leipsic High School in 1937 and completing an undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and earned a master’s degree in plant physiology specializing in vegetable diseases. Subsequently, he earned a doctorate in plant pathology at the UW in 1945. He developed the Wisconsin 55 a tomato variety which is still marketed while a plant breeder for the Wisconsin Seed Company in Racine, WI. In 1947, he returned to the University of Wisconsin with a joint appointment in plant pathology and forestry.

As an associate professor, his department sent him to observe and study forestry schools and field stations in Western Europe.

He was a professor for 40 years known for his enthusiastic and vivacious approach to working on disease projects with his numerous graduate and doctoral students. Together, they discovered the causes of oak wilt, butternut canker, maple and walnut die-back, poplar canker, and other forest and shade tree diseases. His summers were involved with forestry research at the U.W. field station at the Griffith State Forest Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids.

In 1970-72, as part of a U.S.A.I.D. in collaboration with the UW College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and the Nigeria government, he and other UW professors developed the Department of Plant Science and College of Agriculture at the University of Ife.

As an active member of the First United Methodist Church for over 60 years, he served in many capacities from youth work to lay leader. In his retirement, he sold the family farm in Ohio and started the Kuntz Environmental Education Center at the United Methodist Pine Lake Camp near Westfield, WI.

His artistic skills were expressed in his wood-carving of birds, playing the violin and organ, and singing in choirs.

In 1942, he married Helen L. Hartley who was an invaluable assistant in his research and gracious hostess to his students, colleagues, and friends.

He is survived by his wife Helen of 69 years of Madison and children James Kunz (Leslea née Shook) of New Bern, NC; David Kuntz (Patricia Mulvihill) of Boulder, CO; and Patricia Kuntz of Madison, WI. He was preceded in death by his brother, Adm. William Kuntz, U.S. Navy (Joan née Darby) of McLean, VA. His grandchildren are Kristine Leclerc, Kimberly McKee, Jason Mulvihill-Kuntz, Jessica Mulvihill-Kuntz , and six great-grand children: Abigail, Jacob, & Matthew Leclerc; Robert & Samuel McKee; and Colin Kuntz.

A memorial service will be held at OAKWOOD VILLAGE WEST, Resurrection Chapel, 6205 Mineral Point Rd.., Madison, on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. A visitation will be held at Oakwood Village West on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until time of service.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Kuntz Environmental Education Center, United Methodist Church, 750 Windsor St., Sun Prairie,WI 53590; or for (1) Diabetes Research or (2) the Department of Plant Pathology, to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, U.S. Bank Lockbox 7807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807.