The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


October 9, 2012

John W. Munns

ST. HELENA, Calif. — John William Munns was born in Geneva, Ohio on August 24, 1923, to Marjorie Laird Smith Munns and Charles Devine Munns.

He had a delightful childhood living with his grandfather, Dr. Frank Smith, and grandmother, Alice Heath Laird Smith, in Geneva, after his mother passed away when he was just three years old. John went to Toronto, Ontario to live with his father while he attended Lawrence Park Collegiate for his upper school education and then traveled back to the United States to study at Case Western Reserve.

John exuded the love of life and learning and went on to become a professor of English and American and British Studies at the Kent State University branch at Ashtabula and at The University of South Florida where he taught until age 80.

He was a practicing environmentalist who participated in the creation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and assisted in Ashtabula County with water quality and environmental issues in the 1960’s. He was an avid fly fisherman, a gardening and cooking enthusiast and as a young man the owner of an advertising agency with offices in Chicago, Cleveland and Hartford, Conn.

What he will be most remembered for was his absolute positive outlook on life; every day was a new adventure filled with opportunity and happiness. He was known for his wit, smile, and the twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes and for often cheerfully whistling a Frank Sinatra tune. He found great pleasure in the beauty of nature, reading, and focusing on learning something new. His appreciation of all life has to offer brought a closeness and joy to his relationships with his family and friends.

John met the love of his life, Janeth Watkins, when he was at Adelbert College and she at Flora Stone Mather of Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. He went on to serve in the Army Air Corps during World War II, married Janeth on Sept. 29, 1944 and then after World War II went back to Western Reserve to complete his collegiate studies. John Munns died in his home in St. Helena, Calif. with his daughter, Susan, by his side on Sept. 10, 2012, at age 89.

He was interred in the St. Helena Cemetery where his wife was interred in 2005.

His daughter, Susan Boswell; granddaughter, Jacquelynn Peeples; and great-granddaughter, Eloise Theodosia Peeples, who all live in St. Helena, survive him. Brothers, Chuck Laird, age 85, of Palo Alto and Dave Munns, age 92, of Tucson; and daughter, Jane Rhys of Paris, also survive him.

Obituary and condolences at

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