Dr. John B. Munson

Nov. 15, 1932 – Feb. 9, 2019

Dr. John B. Munson, age 86, died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday February 9, 2019. A loving husband and father, John was known for his wry humor, his unassuming dignity and generous heart. Born in Clifton Springs, NY, he grew up on a farm in Canandaigua with his parents and older brother Art. Early on he showed an interest in working with his hands and fixing things, and went on to do boat maintenance (night shift, which allowed him to play golf during the day) while serving in Cuba in the Navy in the mid 1950s learning electrical engineering. He also sang in the Bluejackets, a Navy choir, and developed his resonant bass voice. Back in upstate New York he entered graduate school at the University of Rochester, and met a young woman named Faith at a sherry party in 1958. They were married in 1959. Daughters Cory and Johanna were born in Rochester, and then the family moved to Pisa, Italy where John did his postdoctoral studies in physiology in 1965. John then took a position as assistant professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where their third daughter Kibby was born, and he and Faith lived in Florida for 32 years. John became full professor in 1971. His research in the last part of his career focused on the regeneration of peripheral nerves and their role in the recovery of spinal cord function following injury, which earned him a national research prize. John was devoted to being active outdoors, and was a runner and swimmer, as well as bicycling to and from work every day of his career at the university. John loved being on the water, especially canoe trips and sailing on Florida lakes and rivers, and in Penobscot Bay in Maine at the family’s beloved summer cottage. John retired as professor emeritus and he and Faith moved across the country to Winslow Cohousing on Bainbridge Island, WA in 1998. Together they enjoyed being active community members in cohousing, as well as delighting in classical music, theatre, art and travel. They were members of Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church where they sang in the choir, and John volunteered for several non-profits including Habitat for Humanity and the Seattle Fringe Festival. The death of his dear Faith in 2007 was a tragic loss for John. He continued riding his bicycle until age 81, and after that relished his daily walks, and, eventually daily trips out in his wheelchair when he moved into the Madison House assisted living facility in 2016 where he was a cherished resident.

He is survived by his daughters Cory, Johanna and Kibby, and his grandchildren Alex, Claire, Theo, Xin and Willsy. A memorial service will be held for John at Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church on April 14 at 2pm, at The Island School on Bainbridge Island. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church or Habitat for Humanity.

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