Paul Muneta, beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and treasured friend of many, passed at the age of 91 on Monday, February 13, 2023, at home with his wife, Joann and daughters, Mimi and Lori at his side. Paul’s long life was one of joy, kindness, generosity and helping others. Everyone who knew, and even just met him casually, became someone he cared about and who cared about him.
Paul’s early years were spent living near the Milwaukee Railroad roundhouse in Harlowton, Montana, where his father worked. He was one of six children, including his younger brother, Ed, older brother, Hank, and sisters: Amy, Jean and Kate, all of whom remained close friends throughout his life. Despite very modest beginnings, Paul had a happy childhood playing and fishing with his brothers and friends from the Yamamoto and Satake families who lived close by. He attended Harlowton High School, where he played on the Engineers football team.
With the financial assistance of a life-long close family friend, Mr. Takahashi, (Taka-San,) Paul was able to attend Montana State University, (then College,) and obtain his B.S. in Chemistry. From there he went to Cornell University where he earned his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry . In the fall of 1955, he started dating Joann Leopold, his lab partner in Advanced Plant Physiology, and they were married in June 1956. The couple had a wonderful life together and celebrated their 66th anniversary last year. In 1959, Paul accepted a position at the University of Idaho in Moscow. He was at UI until 1996, specializing in research in potatoes and dry beans, and teaching courses in Food Chemistry at UI and WSU. He was a long-time member of Moscow Toastmasters, and a founding member and treasurer of the Palouse Asian American Association, the P-M Investment Club, and the PAAA Investment Club.
As professor emeritus, Paul spent time with family and friends, enjoying gardening, music, traveling, and most of all fishing, which he loved to share with others. Many a dedicated, and some fanatic fly fisherman got their start fishing with Paul. He had a fish list and would distribute his catch of trout to friends throughout town. Paul’s gentle yet strong, calm, loving, warm nature endeared him to many and inspired and encouraged people of all ages.
The family wishes to thank Elite Home Health and Hospice, Open Arms Home Care, Palouse Dementia Care, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse Care Team for invaluable help in caring for Paul. And special thanks to care-givers Michelle Lovejoy, Tammie Hubner, and nurse Valerie Ells, for their extraordinary kindness and dedication which brightened Paul’s last days.
Additionally, wife Joann expresses her deep appreciation to her “team” of loving friends for their support and thoughtfulness.
Paul is survived by wife Joann, daughters Mimi Muneta Bradford (Jim,) and Lori Muneta (Shawn Pownell,) grandchildren Anna and Nathan Bradford, brother Ed Muneta, and numerous nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews.
A celebration of life party for Paul will be held in the spring. Memorial donations may be made to the Latah County Human Rights Task Force (www.humanrightslatah.org.)