Dr. Harry William Kunkle, 92, of Altoona and Des Moines, died July 2, 2013.
Harry was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Isabel (Peterson), in 1996. He is survived by his sister and best friend, Edythe Cavanaugh of Lohrville, children Marie Kunkle-Nagel (Steven) of Altoona, John (Ellen) of La Grange, IL, Bob (Bev Schmitt) of Boone, and Ted (Ruth) of Des Moines. He will be deeply missed by eight loving grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and lifelong friends and relatives.
Harry was a rugged World War II Marine, country veterinarian, and lifelong Democrat. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis more than 40 years ago, he always retained a love for life in good times and bad. He delighted in news and activities of family and friends (including pets), doting attention on his four granddaughters, welcoming a firm handshake from each of his four grandsons, and making close friends wherever he went. He was compassionate, fiercely loyal and had a strong sense of right and wrong, always leading by example. He had a wonderful sense of humor and laughed loudest when the joke was at his expense.
Born December 21, 1920 in Rapid City, SD, Harry lived with his family in Lead, SD. The family moved to Rinard in 1930 when his mother accepted the position of Postmaster. Through high school (1940 graduate of Rinard High School) he helped support the family working for room and board on numerous farms. It was in Rinard that he met Isabel, who became his wife in 1944 and encouraged him to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. They shared a deep love of animals, politics, and witty banter throughout their lives together.
Harry enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp in 1942 and was stationed on Midway Island and Quantico Virginia during World War II. He was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant. After the war while serving in the Marine Reserves (discharged as First Lieutenant), he returned to scholarly pursuits, graduating from Drake University in 1948 and Iowa State University in 1952 with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. From 1952 through 1963 he flourished in a demanding and fulfilling animal practice in Stratford, first with Dr. M.E. Pomeroy and later with Dr. Russ Van Marel. He was appointed one of three veterinarians to work the 1962 Iowa State Fair. As is often the case in the life of a rural vet, payment came in many forms, and his children were delighted when two horses (Patsy and Mr. Lincoln) were provided for their enjoyment one summer, in exchange for their dad's services. Home life was shared with a menagerie of rescued and adopted pets, including dogs, cats, a squirrel, a pig,a litter of skunks and an African Grey Parrot.
In 1963 Harry took a position with the USDA which led to a move to Algona and then to Des Moines in 1969. He retired in the early 1970s after being diagnosed with MS. After Isabel passed away, he moved to Altoona in 1997.
Harry loved being surrounded by his family, and welcomed the times when all could be together to share a feast, prepared by Isabel during their marriage, and later at his favorite restaurants around Des Moines. He was a humble, gracious and generous man, who truly loved life and delighted in the company of others.
Special thanks from his family go to Kemp Johnson, his long-time friend and caregiver, and the caring staffs at the VA's CLC unit in Des Moines and the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.
Graveside service with military honors will be held Saturday, August 10, 11 a.m. at Cedar Cemetery in Rinard. Lunch for friends and family will follow at the United Methodist Church in Lohrville. In lieu of flowers, gifts in his honor can be made to your local animal shelter.
Published in Des Moines Register on July 9, 2013