Joseph H. Kuranz Sr.


Former General Manager of the Waukesha Water Utility Joseph H. Kuranz Sr. passed away Saturday, June 7, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. He was 92.

Kuranz was one of Waukesha’s pioneers in water utilities for the city, as he served as general manager of Waukesha Water Utility from 1958 to 1985 and was instrumental in overseeing the city’s water distribution.

Kuranz, who was born in Waukesha, began his journey in engineering in 1936, as a U.S. Merchant Marine, serving in the U.S. Navy. He later became an engineering officer during World War II and later retired as a naval commander. Upon returning from the war, Kuranz worked as a design engineer for the Remington-Rand Corp. in New York and later returned to his hometown of Waukesha, where he was employed as an engineer for the Waukesha Water Utility in 1947. Eleven years later, Kuranz was promoted to general manager of the utility and held the position for the next 27 years.

Kuranz graduated from Tri-State College in Indiana, with a Bachelor of Science in engineering and later earned a master’s in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1987, he was honored with a doctorate of engineering from Tri-State University and served as president of the National Society of Professional Engineers, as well as president of the American Water Works Association from 1969 to 1970.

Kuranz was known not only known for his efforts with the city’s water utilities, but his active participation in helping the city of Waukesha grow. He served as director of Marine National Bank from 1972 to 1982, was a trustee with St. Mary’s Church from 1962 to 1968 and served as director of the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce, from 1979 to 1982. He was a frequent contributor to the Waukesha Freeman, as well as other publications.

A known airplane enthusiast, Kuranz not only built and flew scale model remote controlled planes, but was a also a licensed private pilot, who owned various single engine aircraft. An avid golfer, he and his wife, Jennie, were both members of Merrill Hills Country Club and later Oconomowoc Country Club. He enjoyed hobbies such as music, photography and travel. He was also a licensed ham radio operator for many years.

In 1990, Kuranz, along with his wife, Jennie, retired to Tucson, Ariz.

He is survived by his wife, Jennie; his three children and their spouses, Joseph and wife Sandy of Sheboygan; Janice and husband Larry of Gresham, Ore.; and James of Tucson; two sisters, Mary Campbell of Oregon and Pat Schuh and husband Arthur of Genesee township in Waukesha County; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service in his honor will be held Friday, July 27, at St. Mary’s Church, 225 S. Hartwell Ave., Waukesha. Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m. and a memorial Mass will begin at 5:30 p.m.