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James F. Muench

James F. Muench of Cable Gardens, Ipswich, who had worked in fields ranging from the nascent aero-space industry to freelance photographer for local newspapers, died Thursday, January 20, 2010, in the Salem Hospital with two of his three sons at his side. He was 83.

Mr. Muench was born to Hugo and Helen (Harrison) Muench in St. Louis, Mo., on April 16, 1926. His childhood included travel and living in Central and South America in the 1930s while his father worked for the Rockefeller Foundation researching and treating smallpox, malaria, encephalitis and other diseases.

Mr. Muench served in the U.S. Army in Italy in 1944 and during the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. He earned his bachelor's degree at Haverford College and continued studies at a university in Stockholm. He held a job that he had described as "studying Soviet agriculture" from a small village in Finland above the Arctic Circle before being recruited by the air attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki to join the new Air Force. In this position, he held the rank of captain, worked for the intelligence department and briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Soviet economics.

After leaving active service, Mr. Muench worked for aero-space and defense contractors throughout the country. At various times he held positions with financial firms, as director of charitable organizations and, in the late 1970s, freelance photographer for the newspapers serving Ipswich. He followed the development of computers from their punch-card days and eventually helped set up information systems for the commonwealth and private firms.

Mr. Muench was active with efforts to keep open the Cable Emergency Service in Ipswich. He worked often with the Republican Town Committee. He at times attended religious services at various Unitarian churches.

He is survived by three sons, Erik and wife Margaret of Groveland, Karl and wife Deborah of Ipswich, and Kris of Atlanta, Ga.; and four grandchildren and three nieces. He was predeceased by his former wife, Mary Joan (Beach) Muench.

Plans for services are incomplete, but expected to be private. Arrangements are by Whittier-Porter Funeral Home, High Street, Ipswich.

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