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Obituary: Gutenberger, Stewart Albert

Age 87

GUTENBERGER, Stewart Albert Stewart Albert Gutenberger died March 2, 2013 at home in Sandpoint, Idaho. The oldest of six siblings, Stew was born at home on January 25, 1926 to Agnes F. Stava and Stewart W. Gutenberger in Athens, Wisconsin. In the 1930’s, the family moved from their small dairy farm to a house and farm near Nampa, Idaho. Stew recounted stories of the new home where he and his parents, three brothers and two sisters shared space in the basement with the cooking/living area above. Hand-washed laundry was hung outside to dry—he especially remembered the frozen coveralls in the winter. He joined the U.S. Navy as a skinny 17 year old in 1944, seeing action on the battleship USS Massachussetts. He manned a gun onboard and was fascinated by the tracers illuminated in the night, but his most memorable duty was peeling potatoes in the galley. In 1946, he returned from the war to Idaho and a bigger home that was moved from across town and set next to their “chicken coop” home. Stew learned some of his many skills in that house, installing the electrical components and refinishing the interior. He completed his high school degree by GED and entered the College of Idaho in 1948. During a science field trip, he met the spritely Marian Diane Park whom he married on January 30, 1952. He said she was the best thing that ever happened to him and largely due to her influence, he completed a B.S. degree in Biology in 1952. He and Marian went to New Mexico where he built bird watering units for the game department and she ate watermelon to cool off while pregnant. They returned to Caldwell, Idaho in 1954 and over the next five years, Marian presented Stew with four daughters—Susan Katherine, Helen Leslie, Phyllis Adrienne and Julie Lane. In 1955, Stew settled on his future career as a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Resources Division in Boise. Next in line was the move to the USGS field office in Sandpoint in 1962 where he and his crew constructed the gage houses to hold the equipment and cable cars that they used to collect the flow, temperature, and other water metrics on the rivers around the Northwest. He traveled most of the state of Idaho in his 35 year career, with many a story on the challenges of working in the field. He had a sense of humor about the work he did, defining a “stream gager” as “someone who works in remote areas during heavy downpours, clears roads of fallen timber and boulders, wades ice-infested streams, ruins his fingers on cableways, braves blizzards, and gets chewed out for not having neater notes”. Stew’s signature can still be seen on old water data records kept throughout the state. He retired in 1990, shortly after Marian’s death in 1989. He continued to work on projects around the house, finishing those redesigns that Marian had wanted, and also served as a volunteer for the Bonner County Historical Society Museum and the Mickinick Trailhead. Folks appreciated the sweetest carrots and other produce from his garden, an organic effort long before this became popular. Seedlings from his walnut tree, donated to the museum’s annual plant sales, grow around the area. A lifelong conservationist, he recycled left-over materials into creative buildings and felt humankind could do better for the other species on the earth. A tough old codger with a sense of humor, he enjoyed his daily walks with his beloved dogs and fought through the ailments of an aging body just to make his daughters happy. Stewart could do almost anything. He is survived by his daughters and their spouses Susan Gutenberger and Pat Connolly, Helen and Grant Fischer, Phyllis Gutenberger, Julie and Kelvin Calkins; his grandchildren Tristan L. Calkins, Evan S. Fischer, Katherine L. Calkins, and Reed B. Fischer; and his siblings and spouses Illerd and Mabel Gutenberger, Bernita G.Cooper, and Cedric and Lorna Gutenberger. Stewart was preceded in death by his wife Marian, his brother “Bob” Robert G. Gutenberger and his wife, Marian’s sister LaVerne Park, and sister Virginia A. and her husband Robert Spry. Always interested in medical research, he donated his body to MedCure to extend his contributions for human health and education. His ashes will be scattered in the carrot patch of his garden as requested in a poem he wrote years ago for his family. A wake celebrating his life will be held at the Gutenberger home in Sandpoint on March 30, 2013 beginning at 1 pm. In his honor, all friends and family are invited to share memories and join us for his favorite foods.


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