H. Stuart Muench, 81: A meteorology and outdoor enthusiast
BRUNSWICK — H. Stuart Muench, 81, died May 26 at the Mereoint Nursing Center for Brunswick.
He was born in Stamford, Conn., on Sept. 23, 1930, the son of Harry Edward Muench and Elsie Locke Muench. He attended Hinckley Elementary School and graduated from Darien High School in 1948. Inspired by his seventh-grade earth sciences class, he majored in meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his bachelor's degree in 1952.
After graduation he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force as a weather observer and forecaster, returning to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate work in 1954 and received his master's degree in 1956. Before he graduated, he began working as a civilian employee for the U.S. Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory.
On Jan. 3, 1959, he married Elizabeth Gilmore Holt in Davos, Switzerland. They met through their inter-collegiate outing club activities including camping, hiking and skiing. They continued these activities throughout the rest of their lives. In 1961 they bought a house in Lexington, Mass., and lived there until moving to Maine in 2006.
Muench was offered an opportunity to complete a doctoral degree in meteorology while serving as an instructor at the University of Washington in Seattle, and took a leave of absence from his work with the U.S. Air Force to do so. He completed his thesis on heat transfer processes in the stratosphere and he spent a summer on the coast of Maine working on airport visibility instrumentation, laying the foundation for later civilian development of highway ground fog warning systems.
His work developing computer programs that could recognize the radar signatures of developing thunderstorms and tornadoes is among the ancestors of today's graphics on the Weather Channel.
After his children were grown, Muench and his wife went further afield for their camping, hiking and climbing adventures in places like the Canadian Rockies, Denali National Park, New Zealand, the Khumbu region of Nepal, China, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Cape Horn, Patagonia and Scotland.
He was a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Sigma Xi.
He was predeceased by his brother, John.
Muench is survived by his wife, Betsy; daughters, Susan, Cynthia and Joanna and her husband, Craig Lee; foster daughter, Renae Owens; one granddaughter; and one foster granddaughter.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. June 24 at the Durham Quaker Meeting House. A committal service for his ashes in a family plot will be held at 2 p.m. July 28 in Georgetown.