John P. Kunkle
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1918-2012 John Pershing Kunkle, 94, of East Putney Brook Road, Putney, Vt., passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, December 26, 2012, surrounded by his loving family.
John was born in Youngwood, Pa., to George and Elizabeth (Smith) Kunkle on September 4, 1918, the fifth of eight children.
John was a kind and gentle man. His life was long and distinguished, growing up in hard times and developing a strong work ethic. Excelling in school and athletics, he found baseball to be his calling, playing "sand lot" ball against opposing teams with the likes of Stan Musial. With an eye on the ball, he had every intention of following up on an invitation to try out for the Philadelphia Athletics, only to be dissuaded by his Mother, as she felt he "would never make a living playing ball". Trading in his ball glove for a coal shovel, this led to work as a fireman with the Pennsylvania Railroad and pursuing an education in medicine.
After completing high school, John attended the University of Pittsburgh as a pre-med student. Interrupted by World War II, John was drafted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving as a radio operator and earning the rank of Staff Sergeant in the 35th Fighter Control Squadron of the 5th Air Corps, stationed in the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea and Australia. During his military career, John received the American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Philippines Liberation Medal and the Bronze Star.
Following the war, John enrolled at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe, PA, completing three years and then transferred to Thiel College in Greenville, PA graduating in 1950 with a B.S. in Biology. John went on to attend the Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia, Pa., completing certification in medical technology. It was there that he met Gerry (Gaidosh), his loving wife of almost sixty-one years. They were married in Philadelphia, Pa., on February 9, 1952.
John and Gerry settled in Woodbury, N.J., and together raised their family. It was during this time that John owned and operated Pitman Clinical Laboratory, an independent medical laboratory, for twenty-five years. John served as President of the N.J. Association of Bioanalysts from 1972 to 1974.
In 1978, John and Gerry fulfilled their desire to live in Vermont. Never one to sit still, John embarked on many new experiences including working at the Putney Post Office, courier for C&S Grocers, as well as serving as the Putney Health Officer.
John's greatest interests included "puttering " around his home and yard, baseball, planting vegetable gardens and fruit trees, gatherings of family and friends, harness racing, reading, and watching the evening news.
John is survived by his loving and devoted wife Gerry and by his children, Jeff Kunkle and wife Cathy of Harrisonville, N.J., Wayne Kunkle and partner Camilla Arnold of Westminster West, Vt., Diane Vergara and partner Pierre Landry of Brattleboro, Vt., Judy Harlow, Jan Spanierman and husband David, and Dave Kunkle, all of Putney, Vt. John is also survived by sixteen grandchildren, six great grandchildren, sister Mary Jane Primozic of Greensburg, Pa., and numerous nieces and nephews.
John was predeceased by his parents and by his brothers George, Paul, Clair (Blackie), and sisters Charlotte, Susannah and Virginia (Ruth).
FUNERAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 12, 2012 at 1 p.m. at the Putney Friends Meeting House on Rt. 5 in Putney, VT.
For those who wish, kindly consider contributing in John's memory to the Visiting Nurse & Hospice of VT/NH, P.O. Box 976, White River Jct., VT 05001.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer from Dec. 28, 2012 to Jan. 3, 2013