John G. Kunka, 83, of Riverside, died on Nov. 2, 2016.
Mr. Kunka served in the U.S. Army as a member of the 3rd Armored Division in West Germany in 1958-59.
Locally, Mr. Kunka was actively involved for many years in the Frederick Law Olmsted Society, as a member of the board and as its president. He was a member of the village of Riverside’s Forestry Advisory Committee. Under his leadership the first research-based restoration of the Riverside landscape, consistent with the intentions and instructions of Olmsted, to the Riverside Improvement Corporation was begun.
During much of the last two decades, most of the village’s parks and many of its natural areas were restored to their original condition or intended design on Olmsted Society workdays. The effort was led by Mr. Kunka, who used plants secured from a nursery specializing in materials which had been specified in Olmsted’s landscaping plans.
Concurrently, Mr. Kunka and his wife, Jane, introduced the first themed and guided housewalk in the history of the Olmsted Society. Called “The Prairie on the River” the housewalk featured a majority of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures in Riverside as well as a number of homes created by Wright’s students and disciples.
Many of Mr. Kunka’s Forestry Advisory Committee plans and recommendations for village parks and natural areas, submitted for approval by the Village Board, are posted on the Olmsted Society’s website and preserved in the village archives.
Mr. and Mrs. Kunka were also named “Persons of the Year” by the Riverside Township Lions Club. Mr. Kunka was a retired architect with the Commonwealth Edison Corporation.
Mr. Kunka is survived by his wife, Jane; his daughter, Katherine (Jeff) Ladd; his grandchild, Veronica Ladd; his siblings, Bernard (Dee) Kunka and Joan O’ Rourke; his brother-in-law, James (Marge) Helsdingen; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Dan (Fran) Helsdingen.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Church, 126 Herrick Road, Riverside.
Memorial donations are appreciated to the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls at www.mercyhome.org or to St. Thomas Hospice.
Ivins/Moravecek Funeral Home, Riverside, handled arrangements.