Ed Juntilla, who died Nov. 10 at age 78, didn’t hunt or fish or do a lot of the outdoors things that are often seen in people’s obituaries, his surviving wife Doris said.
Ed Juntilla was still on the three-member Princeton Public Utilities Commission since being appointed to it in 2005, served on the Princeton Planning Commission from 1997-2011 and belonged to both the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
It was at Woodcock-Herbst American Legion Post 216 where Ed was most active as a military veteran and where he was commander for two fiscal years starting in mid-2002.
“I think the city lost a real asset,” Princeton City Council Member Dick Dobson said about Juntilla. Dobson, the council’s liaison to the Princeton PUC, recalled Juntilla’s working style.
“He always made sure he understood everything going on and asked questions if he didn’t understand until it was clear in his head,” Dobson said. “And he also watched the bottom line. Any organization can have a tendency to spend money they didn’t need to spend. He watched that everything that was spent was on something that needed to be spent.”
George Freichels, longtime commissioner on the Princeton PUC, said he especially got to know Juntilla in that capacity.
Freichels said that Juntilla was the perfect fit on the PUC. Freichels explained that while Juntilla could “get excited” at times and wasn’t afraid to give his opinions, he generally didn’t get too worked up.
Freichels contrasted his own style of expressing emotions outwardly to Juntilla’s generally “cool” demeanor.
“He could settle you down a little,” Freichels said.
Freichels also knew Juntilla through both of them being part of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization.
“Ed was a good man,” Freichels said. “I am going to miss him.”
Dave Thompson, manager of the PUC until retiring in December 2012, remembers Juntilla as “very conscientious.” Thompson also served on the Planning Commission with Juntilla.
“He was a very sincere and fair person but had a great sense of humor,” current PUC manager Connie Wangen said. Juntilla sometimes shared stories from his years as an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, relating the stories to the PUC business at hand, Wangen added.
“He was always willing to put out his thoughts and ideas and was not afraid to stand up for what he believed,” Wangen continued, and remembers Juntilla being both fair and strict. “He was a very caring person about the people we served,” she said. “If someone came in (to the PUC) and wanted something out of the ordinary, a special favor, he would say ‘Well, we can’t do for you and not do for anyone else.’ But he’d still try to find a way to help them without compromising others.”
Legion Post Commander Jerry Whitcomb said it was a “pleasure” working with Juntilla and called him a “good friend, good veteran, a good commander … a nice man.”
Juntilla served in the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command during 1952-1956, his military service starting during the latter part of the Korean War. Doris Juntilla said that Ed Juntilla served most of his military time on Okinawa.
Later, Juntilla served on the Minneapolis Police Department until retirement in 1985, reaching the rank of lieutenant.
Doris Juntilla said that her husband was on a police department “flying squad” during his earliest years there. She likened the squad to today’s Special Weapons and Tactic teams. He later became head of the department’s traffic divisions, she said.
After Juntilla retired, the couple moved to Otsego for a while and then moved to Taylor’s Falls for four years before moving to Princeton.
Doris Juntilla said that she and her husband were the tour guides and caretakers of the historic Folsom House in Taylor’s Falls for four years. He quit the job after it became boring, she said.
Besides Doris, Juntilla is survived by their children Lisa, Tim, Jennifer and Ruth, and six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Ed Juntilla was not only a “great family man” but took to Princeton, Doris Juntilla said.
“He wholeheartedly embraced the community and they embraced him back.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was held for Juntilla at the Christ Our Light Catholic Parish campus in Princeton Nov. 14. He was interred at St. Edward’s Catholic Cemetery in Princeton and received military honors from the Legion post. His obituary can be found on Page 8 of this week’s Union-Eagle.