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KUNZ, Major John “Jack” Walter, (Retired, USAF), 81, passed away on February 7, 2024, after a short battle with cancer. He is survived by Maureen, his wife of 57 years; his three daughters Alicia (Patrick) O’Connor, Amy Kunz, Angie (Brent) Theaker; five grandchildren (Kaitlyn, Jack, Natalie, Erin, and Nathan); his brother Michael Kunz; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
At an early age Jack showed an interest in airplanes. As a teenager, he joined the Cadet program with the Civil Air Patrol where he logged his first hours in a cockpit. After graduating from St Patrick’s High School in Syracuse, NY he enrolled in Le Moyne College some time, but his sights were set on the United States Air Force Academy. Through persistence and sheer will he finally persuaded his congressperson to appoint him to the Academy. The year 1966 was especially memorable for Jack; he graduated from USAFA, and he married Maureen. He went on to United States Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and then proudly served in the United States Air Force for 25 years. From 1968-69 Jack served in the Vietnam War.
Jack supplemented his education by earning a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from University of Dayton. He achieved the rank of Major and retired from the service in 1985. He then worked as a contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. For the past 20 years, Jack shared his expertise and experience with visitors to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, where he happily served as a volunteer docent.
Jack had a natural curiosity about the world. He traveled widely, was an avid reader, and an expert storyteller. His stories from his time as a USAF pilot included an amazing level of detail about the technical aspects of aviation. His volunteer job at the Air Force Museum provided him with a whole new captive audience for his stories. In addition to the far-flung places his Air Force career took him to, he and Maureen made travel and lifelong learning a priority.
Sailing, woodworking, and amateur “ham” radio were some of Jack’s favorite hobbies. He was a member of the Western Ohio Woodworkers (WOW) club and was always proud to give away his beautiful woodworking creations to his family, friends, and the community; on more than one occasion he made toys and gave them to Childrens Medical Center to distribute to their patients.
Jack was always looking for ways to improve his fitness. He walked in 25 marathons, completed countless Volksmarches, and biked for miles on several of Ohio’s (and other state’s) rail trails. He was an impressively consistent bowler, and his golf game improved every year. Jack was also constantly exercising his brain. Most days you could find him working a crossword puzzle, playing word games online, calling out the answers while watching “Jeopardy” each night --anything to keep his synapses firing.
Blessed with what the Irish call “the gift of gab,” Jack had the ability to make friends anywhere. As a result, he had scores of friends from several chapters in his life. He was a member of Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA). When they were not chatting via radio, he and his fellow “ham” radio devotees met up each year at Dayton’s famous Hamvention. Jack also loved being one of the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) who regularly met for breakfast to exchange stories, rib each other, and enjoy big laughs. All these groups, plus his golf buddies and friends made from his active participation at Our Lady of the Rosary Church and School kept his social calendar and his life full of joy and connection. Jack’s family is grateful to so many of his dear friends who were kind enough to visit, call, or send him lovely cards and email messages during the last weeks of his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Air Force Museum Foundation, Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO), Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, and/or Our Lady of the Rosary Church, where Jack and Maureen have been active members and communicants for the past 48 years, are the best way to honor Jack’s memory.
Mass of Christian Burial 11 AM Friday, February 16, 2024 at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, 22 Notre Dame Ave. The family will receive friends on Friday from 9 AM until service time at the church. Burial will take place later this spring. Jack will be laid to rest at Dayton National Cemetery on the grounds of Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Marker & Heller Funeral Home, Huber Heights Chapel.