BRUNSWICK — Norman Henry Munn, 73, independent scholar, writer and teacher, died Feb. 3 at the Georgetown University Hospital.
He was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug. 21, 1940, son of Anna L. Sullivan of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Norman L. Munn of Adelaide, Australia. He was raised in Brunswick, where his father was professor of psychology at Bowdoin College. He attended the Phillips Academy, Class of 1958, and Harvard University.
In 1965, he made his first visit to Mexico, where he met his future wife, Natividad Estrada Pineda. They were married in the cathedral of the city of Oaxaca on Feb. 1, 1969, and lived together for 45 years in Mexico City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
He dedicated great part of his life to studying, documenting, and interpreting the culture of the Mazatec people of Oaxaca. His essays on Mazatec shamanic traditions have appeared in anthologies published by Oxford University Press and the University of California Press and in journals such as Plural, The CoEvolution Quarterly, New Wilderness Letter, and the Journal of Latin American Lore. He was also a teacher of English as a second language, and was equally devoted to teaching professionals in Mexico City, as he was to teaching immigrants in the U.S.
Munn was a unique and gentle individual, a man with a deep passion for learning and an exceptional sense of wonder. He was a loving husband and caring father who led a simple life, in the sense that he was not interested in material goods. Nothing energized him more than books and art.
He is survived by his wife, Natividad; two daughters, Ana Karina, and husband, Ricardo, and Diana Xochitl; grandson, Benjamin; and family members in both Brunswick and Australia. He is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery, Brunswick.