James I. Munger, 87, died peacefully on May 13 on his farm surrounded by family. He is the husband of the late Carol V. Munger. Jim was born in Saginaw, Michigan to Lucius Robert and Wanda Welzien Munger. He was preceded by his two brothers, Donald J. Munger and Edward R. Munger. Unfortunately, his younger brother Lucius J. Munger died at his home in Michigan, just days after Jim died.
Jim grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, where he started farming as a young boy and developed a love for agriculture and a respect for the earth that would stay with him throughout his life. In 1957, he graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in education. In 1958, he began his teaching career at Saginaw. Jim was destined to be a lifelong learner and educator, finding teachable moments in most situations and conversations.
Jim met his wife Carol at Battle Creek Michigan. They married in 1961 and took their VW to California where Jim would get his master’s degree at Stanford University. Their first three children, Elizabeth, Mark, and Craig, were all born in California.
Jim proudly remembers his presence on the first Earth Day in California in 1970. This experience inspired him to focus on environmental chemistry, and he became an ambassador for water quality, climate change, and the fate of our planet. Jim is pursuing a PhD at the University of the Pacific at Stockton. His thesis, an early chemistry textbook, helped secure his teaching career as a professor at Roger Williams College in 1970. So Jim and his family moved to Rhode Island and two years later their youngest daughter Sara was born. Jim taught at Roger Williams for 30 years and helped develop the School of Environmental Chemistry. During this time, he was also instrumental in starting the Coggeshall Farm living history museum and 4-H club in Bristol RI, with support from his family, lifelong farming group Sam Hall and his family, and many other educational and agricultural advocates.
Jim wants his family to live and grow in a healthy and cooperative environment, learning firsthand about the joys of farming life. In 1980, the family moved again, this time to Dartmouth, MA and with Jim’s determination, the farming adventure began. Apart from raising livestock, he started growing and selling vegetables at the farmers market and later developed into “Mums Mungers”. Jim continued to expand his farming activities, trying his favorite hydroponic tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries and strawberries. Jim is never afraid to try something new, including efforts to promote land-based fish farming to support fishing communities in response to declining marine stocks. If you visit Stoney Meadows Farm, you will usually find him in his greenhouse mixing special fertilizers by hand, giving the plants what they need. He enjoys talking and teaching in the “visiting” process with whoever comes.
Jim co-authored the book Good Fruits with his father-in-law, Erston V. Miller. He enjoyed reading and writing poetry and contemplating life and its relationship to the land. Jim is also a dancer. Polka and waltz are the favourites, but she’ll tear up the dance floor every chance she gets, and all the ladies know she might pick it up from the sidelines and give them a spin or two.
Jim is deeply involved in Dartmouth, Westport and surrounding communities with a focus on advocating for farmers and promoting education through agriculture. He is a founding member of the Coastal Farmers Cooperative. He is also an active member of Dartmouth Grange and enjoys being involved with SEMAP, Massachusetts Farming in Classrooms, Bristol County Agricultural Bureau, Dartmouth Agricultural Commission, DNRT, and the National Association of Fruit and Berry Growers. The Allen Neck Friends Gathering Community is an important part of Jim and Carol’s life in the area and they both enjoy participating in its meetings, groups, and activities.
Jim’s strong, determined spirit and sense of humor will be sorely missed by many. We like to think he’s dancing with Carol, picking and eating ripe raspberries or mashing fresh strawberries for his favorite shortcake which he often eats several times a day! Fathers most enjoy spending time visiting family and friends, working in the greenhouse or in the garden. His earnest hope is that his children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy this planet and all it has to offer, as he has.
His family would like to thank Allen’s Neck Meeting for their constant support, the Coastal Neighbors Network, and Kindred Hospice. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Father’s wonderful and loyal caregiver who allowed him to stay at home with joy, dignity and grace until his last day. And special friends and neighbors who will brighten up the day with their friendly and loving visits.
Jim is survived by his four children, Elizabeth (Doug), Mark (Kelly), Craig (Jocelyn) and sweet Sara, three grandchildren, Elinor, James and Scott, and a large family. The family feels that Jim’s legacy is best appreciated by doing something good for the earth or neighbors or by donating to the Allen’s Neck Friends Meeting or Dartmouth Grange. A service celebrating Jim’s life will be held at a later date.
Posted online on May 21, 2022
Published in New Bedford Standard-Times