Charles “Chuck” Michael Juhnke, 61, Rochester
Charles Michael Juhnke, “Chuck”, was born November 23, 1954, in Brookings, South Dakota to Jeannine and Rollins Juhnke. He died at age 61 on May 16, 2016 at his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his mother Jeannine and his brother Scott.
Chuck spent his earliest years in Red Wing, Minnesota, where his father worked as a pharmacist. In 1959, he moved with his family to Kasson, Minnesota. Chuck completed elementary through high school years in the Kasson-Mantorville school system. Throughout high school he excelled in cross county running, and in playing his trumpet. He performed in the All Star Band, and received the John Phillip Sousa Award. In track he was on the All-Conference Team three years in a row.
He continued running when he started his secondary education at Golden Valley College, and traveled with his cross-country team to Oregon to compete. His time at Golden Valley was interrupted when it was discovered Chuck had a brain tumor. He had surgery and cobalt treatment at Mayo Clinic. After recovery he transferred to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Luther, Chuck took a safari trip to Kenya, Africa. He enjoyed this trip thoroughly and took many slides and photos. He loved to give presentations to others so he could show his slides and talk about this grand adventure.
He formed the idea of becoming a school teacher and entered Saint Cloud State University for additional training. Student teaching was an eye-opener; teaching suited him, but not in that setting. His seasonal jobs were with the Rochester branch of the Department of Natural Resources, and since his primary interest was as a naturalist, it seemed to be a good fit for him. He gave cave tours and lectures at Forestville State Park, and completed a plant survey of the park. At Frontenac State Park he created signage for park trails, lectured, and did another plant survey for that park; he collected and preserved plant samples. He led exploration tours looking for certain plants at specific times of the growing season. He was a “Birder” who kept lists of birds seen every year, and had a Life-List of all birds he had ever seen. Each new sighting was an occasion for celebration. His lectures on the night birds were very popular at the parks. Chuck became a permanent seasonal employee for the DNR.
Off-season was the time for biking, running, and cross country skiing. He skied the Vasa Loppet at Mora, Minnesota and the American Birkebeiner at Cable/Hayward, Wisconsin. Chuck taught cross county skiing for all ages with the Rochester Community Education program, and loved creating excitement for the sport with beginner skiers. He was also fascinated with astronomy and spent many night hours searching the skies through his telescope. On the other end of the spectrum was his interest in fossils. Anyone who had a like interest was taken to his favorite spots for fossil hunting.
At age 49, Chuck suffered a major stroke which left him permanently weakened on his right side. His dear friends continued to drive him to birding spots, and helped him participate in Annual Bird Counts. It was a major adjustment for him to adapt to such a limited way of life. He liked to do Sudoku puzzles and to watch Jeopardy on television. If the Vikings were playing on TV, visitors or phone calls were frowned upon.
Chuck is survived by his father Rollins Juhnke, his step-mother LeVuo Juhnke, his sister Laura Delva, his brother-in-law Tony Delva, step-sister Chris Pape, step-brother Derek (Angela) Schmidt, step-brother David (Karin) Schmidt, several cousins, and many faithful friends.
A memorial service was held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Kasson, Minnesota on Friday, May 20, 2016 with Pastor Randy Fett officiating. Burial was at Maple Grove Cemetery, Kasson.
The family prefers memorials be directed to them to be distributed per their wishes at a later time. Dibble Funeral Home & Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be shared at www.dibblefuneralhome.com .