John Philip (Jack) Muench, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, died on September 24, 2023, at the age of 97. He was preceded in death by his father, John Philip Muench (d. 1935); his mother, Mary Martha (nee Eberler); his beloved wife, Donna Marie (nee Valkier, d. 2021); and all his five older sisters, Marie Bernadette Clemens, Jeanne Barbara Brady, Virginia Carolyn Bjorn, Carol Celeste Cashin, and his twin Patricia Mae Hyde. He leaves behind five children, Mary Jo Baisch (Edward), Laurie J. Muench (Julian Wesley), John P. Muench (Elizabeth Drumm), Margaret Learner, and Jeanne A. Wood (Charles); as well as 14 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
Jack was born on December 22, 1925, in Wheaton, Illinois. His father’s premature death when he was only ten, in the heart of the Great Depression, made for a tight and resilient family. When he turned eighteen, he joined the Army and was assigned to the Office of Strategic Service, where he spent the
waning days of WW2 in the countryside of France and Germany, providing morse code communication support for those fighting behind enemy lines. In 1949 he graduated from the University of Notre Dame and moved to Grand Rapids to begin his career as an accountant. He met Donna Valkier on the beach in Grand Haven State Park, a chance encounter that resulted in a marriage of 68 years. It was never clear to his children who started flirting with whom. He was a devout
Catholic throughout his life and a solid member of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Paul the Apostle parishes. It was joyful to hear him shout while watching Notre Dame football games. He loved to sing, whether at home, with the Grand Rapids Schubert Club, or in his parish choir. He learned to golf as a teenager caddying at the Wheaton Country Club and never lost his passion for the game. Finally, he loved to swim long distances. From the shore, his family would often watch him disappear into the distant mist of a Michigan lake.
We will celebrate his long life on Friday, September 29, 2023, at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Grand Rapids with visitation at 11am followed by a funeral mass at noon. He will be interred, with military honors performed by Kent County Veteran Honor Guard, at Resurrection Cemetery following mass. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School: https://grcatholiccentral.org or to the Grand Rapids Schubert Club: https://www.schubertmalechorus.org/become-a-donoradvertiser/