The wife and children of Ernest Robert Kunney sadly announce the death of our husband and father. Ernest passed away peacefully at home at the age of 99 four months after a debilitating fall.|
Ernest was born in Munich, Germany, the youngest of three sons, to Maximilian Kahn and Franziska Rosenberg Kahn. He was predeceased by his parents and brothers, Frederick Kahn (d. 1994) and Hans Kahn (d. 1954). As a young man in Munich, Ernest studied and trained as a chemist and brew master. Unfortunately, his aspirations of working in a German brewery were never fulfilled. He and his family staunchly opposed Nazi persecution and were driven from Germany in 1933. Ernest's narrow escape from Nazi Germany fundamentally changed his view of society, politics, and religion, and led to deep American patriotism. In 1943, he joined the US Army, stationed at Camp Ritchie, MD, and worked as a translator and interpreter in military intelligence. After the war, he joined his brother Hans at S&K Sales Company, a distributor to Military commissaries and exchanges. He continued to work in the family business as S&K's Vice President of Western Region Operations until he retired in 1988 after 42 years.
On December 23rd, 1966, Ernest married Antje Ingeborg Berg, earning him the status of "luckiest man on earth." At the time, their union sparked family controversy - their differences in age and faiths seemed insurmountable to some. But those concerns did not last and they quickly won over all the relatives. The two shared a sense of humor, great love for each other, loyalty to family and friends, and the German language, among many other bonds. Together, they enjoyed a true partnership. After believing fatherhood had eluded him, Ernest became a first-time father at the age of 54, when he and Antje welcomed their daughter, Ruth. Son, Marc, followed two years later. Ernest was a caring and loyal father with a deep sense of morality, a firm grip on life's rudder, accompanied by a quick wit. He felt a strong connection and pride in his two children, and they will miss 'Papa's' joy in their accomplishments, sage advice, and unyielding support.
Opa was also a wonderful grandfather who loved unconditionally, bringing stability and warmth to the lives of his six grandchildren - Thoeren, Tait and Anneke Hollis (Ruth Kunney, San Mateo, California); and Claudia, Allegra, and Francesca Kunney (Marc Kunney and Laura Hill, San Francisco, California). He is also survived by many nephews and nieces who will miss him dearly.
In addition to his deep love for his wife and family, Ernest enjoyed tending his garden and fruit trees, hiking in the mountains of Marin County and the Sierras, swimming religiously at the San Mateo Elks Club, voraciously reading financial magazines, newspapers and books, and a great bottle of beer.
We were blessed that Ernest lived a long and full life, eagerly meeting challenges head-on with force and tenacity. The passing of our husband and father marks the loss of a strong, caring, compassionate man with deep conviction. We will miss him very much.
A memorial will be held later in the year.
Donations can be made in Ernest's honor to:
* United Services Organization Inc. (USO) PO Box 96322, Washington, DC 20090-6322
* Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) 1399 South Roxbury, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 20, 2013