Juan F. Munoz


Posted: Friday, May 27, 2005

Former Juneau resident Juan Francisco Munoz, 79, died May 23, 2005, peacefully in his sleep in Ketchikan.

He was born to Gonzalo Munoz and Vivian Watkins on July 9, 1925, in Media, Penn. His father's family came to the United States from Cuba after revolution resulted in the expropriation of family lands by the Cuban government. He grew up surrounded by Cuban family and their culture and stories of life on sugar plantations.

He was honorably discharged in 1944 from the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in mining geology from the University of Arizona, School of Mines, and came in 1950 to Alaska as an employee with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. Over the years, he worked for several large mining companies throughout the Americas, and prospected independently from the Aleutian Islands to Punta Arenas in South America. As project leader with DuPont, his efforts led to the largest fluoride discovery in South America.

He met and married Rie Munoz in 1951. They had twin boys, Juan and Felipe. The couple traveled together to King Island in the Bering Sea to work as teachers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They prospected in Southeast Alaska and Mexico. Their young son, Felipe, died in 1958 after a brief illness .

He received an honorary professional degree in geological engineering from the University of Arizona in 1976.

He enjoyed cooking, Latin music, writing, photography and spending time with friends and family.

He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Pina Castellon Munoz; his son, Juan (Cathy); his granddaughter, Mercedes; and numerous cousins in North and South America.

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