Edward E. Munger

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Brigadier General Edward E. Munger died today at his home in Fresno, Ca., ending his two and a half year battle against liver cancer. Known as a military correspondent on KMJ Radio Station and ABC Channel 30, Munger's contribution to the Central Valley extends much further then his public persona. Born on February 15, 1939, General Munger was a third generation native of Fresno, where his family settled in 1880. As a senior at Fresno High School, Munger enlisted as a private in the California Army National Guard (Fresno's 85th Infantry Regiment). He was quickly selected to attend the California Military Academy Officer Candidate Program where, in 1959, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. "Ed was one of my better students at the California Military Academy. He went on to rank so high that now I have to salute him," reflected Phillip V. Sanchez, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras and Columbia. "He was always so meticulous. He just kept getting promoted. He was never late, never took time off and was never offbeat." In 1979, General Munger was the only Army National Guard representative selected to attend the National War College. While at the War College, Munger's studies focused on the Middle East, giving him an opportunity to travel throughout that region and meet with leaders including President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, King Faud and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Emir and leaders of the ruling Al-Khalifa family in Bahrain, and the Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. Following the War College, Munger was promoted to full Colonel and accepted a four-year tour of active duty service as the Executive Staff Director and Chief of Staff of the Reserve Forces Policy Board in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at The Pentagon. After 32 years of service, in 1990 General Munger retired from the military as a Brigadier General. Prior to his departure, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, as well as the Defense Superior Service medal which is the second highest award that can be presented during peace time. In the private sector, General Munger owned Engineered Sound, an electronics engineering and installation company. He also served as a Fresno County Deputy Sheriff, and was the co-owner and Operations Manager for the Granada Capital Company. As owner of the Granada Capital Company, Ed Munger, along with his brother Maynard, were able to restore the El Granada Building in Berkeley, Ca. Built in 1904 by their grandfather, Patrick O'Brien, the El Granada Building is a historic Berkeley landmark, serving as an Apartment Building to the University of California, Berkeley students on Telegraph Avenue. Outside of his business affairs, General Munger was very active with the Boy Scouts of America, earning the prestigious Silver Beaver Award and the Sequoia Counsel Distinguished Scout Award. He was the President of I.R.O. Soararsis which is a support organization for Kings Canyon National Park, as well as a member of the Valley Children's Hospital Board of Trustees, a member of the Rotary Club of Fresno's board of directors, and a member of the Fresno County Planning Commission. As Nancy Osborne, a reporter/anchor for ABC Channel 30 and long time friend of General Munger reflected, "Ed would remind people of what it is they should be doing." Similarly, Congressman Jim Costa remarked, "Ed Munger epitomized all of the good things that represent our Valley." Whether it was his volunteer work or his service in the military, Ed Munger was satisfied knowing that he was able to impact the world and individuals in a positive way. In 2004 General Munger returned to the Middle East with a civilian group called Brotherhood of The Badge to deliver law enforcement equipment, two way radios and protection vests to the new Iraqi Police in Baqubah. Since his initial visit, more then 12,000 vests and other equipment have been delivered to the Iraqi Police through the U.S. military. "This is a man who has spent a lifetime, right to the very end, serving his country and his community," stated Congressman Devin Nunes. After he returned from the Middle East, in July of 2005, Ed Munger took a sip from a margarita and felt a sharp pain that would change his life. After numerous tests the liver cancer was uncovered and he was given two months to live. "The doctors thought that perhaps I got cancer from being around irradiated ammunition; unfortunately there's so little research that no one really knows." While quality of life was always a much higher priority then longevity of life, General Munger underwent surgery and experimental treatments that increased the doctors' two-month prediction to over two and a half years. Throughout his cancer, Munger actively made his own treatment decisions, surprising doctors with both the increased longevity of his life, and the outstanding quality of his final few years. When asked about his cancer, Ed Munger simply said, "I haven't gone through anger or denial. When you have strong faith, it takes all the worries away. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ and have faith in what will happen after I die. God has a plan for me and He will decide when He wants to take me Home. No matter what happens I win. If I live, I will have more time with my friends and family. If I die, I know where I'm going. I will miss my wife and kids, but I know we will be reunited again one day in Heaven." As KMJ radio host Ray Appleton said about friend and guest speaker, Ed Munger, "Frankly, General Munger has a better handle on his death than most people have on their own lives." Reflecting on the last period of time, Ed Munger's daughter Beth said, "I know that I will forever look back on these last two years and cherish the wonderful memories we made. He was truly the best man I have ever known, and I know that I'm blessed to have had such an outstanding person as both a father and a friend." Son, Edward Munger said "Dad was always there for me, no matter what. We did so much together as father and son that he became my best friend and mentor. I honestly don't know what it is going to be like to not be able to pick up the phone and talk with him." Wife, Tamsen Munger said "Ed was grateful for his life. Our children gave him a water fountain for the bedroom so he could fall asleep to the sound of rain." In the end that fountain brought General Munger peace and joy. It now stands as a monument to a man whose impact will continue to be felt on the Fresno community and the lives of many. The Munger family would like to thank Dr. Paul C. Norwood, M.D. and his staff for their counsel and support over the past two and a half years, and the Saint Agnes Hospice family. General Munger is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Maynard. General Munger is survived by his wife, the former Tamsen Nichols, whom he married 37 years ago; and their adult children, Edward Earl and Eleanor Elizabeth of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also survived by sisters-in-law and their spouses, Marilee Munger of Knoxville, Tn., Dr. and Mrs. Rauden Coburn, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Nichols, Brigadier General and Mrs. Carl O. Nichols, all of Fresno, and Mrs. Earl W. Nichols of Davis, Ca.; and many nieces and nephews. A private interment for family and friends will be held at Fresno Memorial Gardens, Whites Bridge Road and Cornelia, on Friday, February 15, 2008, his 69th birthday, at 10:00 a.m. A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 1540 'M' Street at Calavaras, on Friday, February 15, 2008, at 12:00 p.m. General Munger hoped people would honor his memory by donating to the "Fairy Godfather" fund that he quietly created 15 years ago and single-handedly funded at Children's Hospital Central California. It provides a toy or stuffed animal for sick and terminally ill children whose families are too poor to afford them. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Children's Hospital Central California Gift Shop Fairy Godfather Fund, 9300 Valley Children's Place, STOP FC09, Madera, Ca. 93636; the Sequoia Council, Boy Scouts Camp Chawanakee capital fund, 6005 N. Tamera, Fresno, Ca. 93711; Mount Herman Christian Conference Center capital campaign, P.O. Box 413, Mount Herman, Ca. 85041; and First Presbyterian Church of Fresno capital campaign, 1540 'M' Street, Fresno, Ca. 93721.
Published in the Fresno Bee on Feb. 14, 2008
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