Donald H. Kuhn of Harding Township, NJ, died on March 30, 2020. He was 89.
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Don was a renaissance man, impressive for his many talents, contributions and accomplishments but best known for his generous humanity, optimism and joyful passion for life.
At any early age, Don developed a deep love of history and the arts. With infinite curiosity and a lifelong passion for learning, he was first and foremost a teacher – with everyone, but most especially his children. He became the keeper of family history, writing colorful remembrances and preserving family heirlooms that illuminated the personalities of his forebears. He renovated homes, refinished and reupholstered furniture, and created beauty in his world as a painter, gardener, poet and peacemaker.
The youngest of five children, Donald was born in 1930 in Elizabeth, NJ to Lucy Diener and John J. Kuhn, a self-made, patented inventor. His childhood was a happy one, growing up in a large extended family and spending summers at the Jersey shore. Don earned his BA at Catholic University of America and his MA in English at Louisiana State University. He taught at both LSU and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was drafted by the US Army in late 1953 and served with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea.
It was at LSU that Don met the love of his life, Ernestine “Teeny” Cappel of Louisiana. They were married in 1955, beginning an amazing partnership that would last 64 years. They settled in New Jersey, raising six children in Elizabeth, Colts Neck and then Millington. Ever devoted to Teeny, his legacy lives on through her, his six children and their partners: Carolyn and Dan Collins of Massachusetts, Bert and Jan Kuhn of New Jersey, Catherine and Charles Harris of New Jersey, Margaret Kuhn and Steve Cebula of Oregon, Ted and Suzette Kuhn of Indiana, Sarah Kuhn and Jeff Staab of Oregon. The couple is pre-deceased by an infant child, Peter Kuhn, born in 1959. Don’s deep love extended to the couple’s eleven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, dozens of nieces and nephews, and a wide circle of dear friends, all of whom were touched by his grace.
Don’s business career was a rich one and his professional expertise was centered in human resources, organizational development and facilitation of teams. He joined Bell Laboratories in New York in 1955. Following several mid-career years with a start-up company, Don was hired by AT&T, where he served as Employee Development Director until 1993. After retiring, he became the Executive Director of the International University Consortium for Executive Education (UNICON). In this position and independently, Don and Teeny were able to travel the world extensively to experience its many wonders and diversity.
Don possessed a deep commitment to humanity and lived a continually active spirit of volunteerism. He served as president of the Morris Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, and headed the ReStore Committee charged with developing the strategic business plan for this venture, which opened in 2007 and has been an important source of funds for building affordable homes in the community. He served as president of the Board of Education in Colts Neck, NJ, as president of the Library Board of Trustees in Long Hill Township, NJ, and as president of the Contemporary Art Group of north central NJ. He was a foundational member of the Shrine of St. Joseph Emmaus Christian Community, launching an annual service auction 40 years ago with Teeny, which generated a major source of funds for the community’s mission. In 1995, Don co-authored an award-winning book with Loughlan Sofield on leadership in church institutions entitled The Collaborative Leader.
Memorial services will be held to honor Don’s life at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to The Shrine of St. Joseph, Morris Habitat for Humanity or Doctors Without Borders.
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