RIP Bill (Jamie) Kunz

Our wonderful and brilliant classmate Jamie (Bill) Kunz died on the morning of November 20, 2016, just peacefully falling asleep according to his brother Pete.

He’d been afflicted with lung cancer, treated with chemotherapy and radiation starting about two couple of years ago and outliving many expectations. About two months ago he began a new course of immuno-therapy, interrupted when he went into the hospital with pneumonia – thence to rehab, and then into hospice.

Until a week or so ago he’d been mentally clear and agile, full of the drollery and quickness we all remember. He’d been of good cheer about his condition, ready to go when the time came. We’d talked regularly until he contracted a thrush infection, which is what finally overcame him.

That he lived to see his Cubs win the World Series seemed to him, as to many Chicagoans, almost miraculous. Of the election he was less ebullient, though he had followed it and the aftermath in detail until near the end.

For a reminder of his vivid and unusual character and of some of his life adventures, I refer you to the two essays he wrote for our 50th reunion classbook. He speaks there of his time in Malawi while in the Peace Corps, and also glances at a point in his long and celebrated career as a public defender in Cook County, Illinois. There he specialized in capital cases and, inevitably, became an important teacher and mentor to other attorneys. His moral passion and steadfastness in fighting for the underserved and sometimes despised, as well as his legendary ingenuity, are part of the legacy of this remarkable person.

Bill was loved and esteemed by a wide panoply of friends from many phases and stations of his life. Sometimes the esteem baffled him. But I believe he found life gratifying, and in the end felt he had lived it well. Most of those who knew him, I’m sure, would agree that he had.

–John Blanpied, ‘60