On July 25, 2020, Michael Kuntz, loving husband, father of four, and grandfather of twelve, went to be with his heavenly Father at the age of 77. Mike passed peacefully, surrounded by his family, after a long and bravely fought battle with a dementia-related illness.
Mike was born in Philadelphia, PA on June 9, 1943, the oldest of eight children born to George and Mary Lou (Straub) Kuntz.
He married his beloved and his favorite nurse, Verna Rizzo, in April of 1968. They made their home in Lafayette Hill, PA, with the Mansfields as their neighbors. Daughter Debbie and son Jeff were born, and the young family resided in their cozy house on Wagner Road, along with Reilly, their devoted Irish Setter.
Mike spent his career in the retail industry, and worked as a successful and accomplished executive, salesman and buyer for Strawbridge and Clothier, Philadelphia, PA; Levi Strauss and Co (Philly, NYC); and Speedo, Tyr-The Finals.
In 1976, Mike accepted a position with Levi’s in New York City, and the family relocated to Mahwah, NJ; daughter Elizabeth and son Michael were born, and the family was complete. For many years, he and Verna enjoyed time entertaining family and friends at their home on Campgaw Road, swimming in the pool and skating/boating/fishing/catching turtles on the pond in the shade of the beautiful willow tree. Always warm and welcoming hosts, the Kuntz household was filled with life and was a place where many happy memories were made.
Mike’s profession required him to spend a significant amount of time on the road, yet he still made the time to be an engaged and dedicated husband, father, son, son-in-law, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. He was a volunteer the town soccer league, was a PTA president, and was a loyal volunteer and member at Immaculate Conception Church in Mahwah.
After Mike’s retirement, he and Verna were thrilled to purchase and settle into a wonderful new home in the vibrant Greenbrier community in Waretown, NJ, in close proximity to their beloved NJ shore communities. They continued to travel and to enjoy time at the beach and with friends, taking in shows in Atlantic City, playing bocce and enjoying other community sponsored events and activities.
Mike loved nature, wildlife, and animals, particularly his “grand-dogs”. With great enthusiasm, he undertook the adventure of a lifetime in 1985 to Kenya, where he went on safari and enjoyed the wildlife (to include his favorites, the elephants), the culture and warmth of the residents, and memories made with dear friends. Mike was an avid sports fan, and was a devoted follower of the Philadelphia Eagles, to the dismay and playful ribbing of his north Jersey friends. He enjoyed exercise and fitness, listening to music, working on art projects, and travel, particularly to Caribbean islands and beaches. He and Verna and friends enjoyed trips to Paris, Italy and to the western US National Parks. Other than time spent with family and friends, Mike and Verna’s ideal day together was one spent at the beach, particularly in their cherished town of Stone Harbor.
Mike was a friend to all, and would never hesitate to be there for family and friends in their hour of need or to celebrate happy occasions. He was a family man who cherished time spent with his children and grandchildren, his pride and joy. His smile could light up a room. He loved to be silly, to poke fun and to sing (he had a beautiful voice but often belted out goofy tunes, to his family’s amusement). He was the most playful and fun Pop Pop, and will be remembered for his expert bed sheet tent making, his Donald Duck impression, his great hugs and his warm laughter.
Even as his health declined, Mike still recognized and rarely forgot those he loved, a testament to his strength and his determination and his love for them. He was eager to show his affection for family and friends until the end, and made sure that we all knew that we were loved. His dedicated sweetheart, Verna, remained his love and the center of his universe through it all.
Predeceased by his parents, Mike was a dedicated son to George and Mary Lou, and a loyal brother to his beloved sister Judy and brother Jeff. He is also predeceased and by his parents-in-law Fred and Fanny (Filomena) Rizzo.
Mike is survived by his loving wife of fifty-two years, Verna; his children Debbie and Tom, Jeff and Ania, Elizabeth and Rob, and Michael and Aura. He was an amazing Pop Pop to his adoring grandchildren: Ryan, Matthew, Téa, Michaela Linthorst; Alek and Kasia Kuntz; Justin, Aidan, and Dylan Holligan; and Ariana, Joaquin, and Emilia Kuntz. He is also survived by his brothers and sisters: Suzanne and Bill, Robert and George, Harry Mansfield, Rick and Pam, Mary Lou, Neil and Rosemary; by his brothers and sister in-law Joe, Fred and Bobbie, and many nieces and nephews.
We will miss him dearly, but know that his spirit is always with us and are grateful that he is at peace.
A memorial mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Church, Barnegat - 747 West Bay Avenue, Barnegat, NJ 08005 on August 13 at 11am.
Flowers are gratefully declined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Compassionate Care Hospice. Checks should be made out to the Amedisys Foundation and mailed to: Amedisys Foundation, 3854 American Way, Suite A, Baton Rouge, LA 70816
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