Obituary of Wilhelm F. Kunzler
Wilhelm, affectionately known as Willy, was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on July 2, 1931, to Wilhelm Jakob Künzler and Eugenie Hilda Mvaurer.
He became an apprentice Optician at his father’s business, Optiker Künzler. He later achieved the esteemed status of Master Optician at the Cologne Institute of Optics, a path his younger brother Joachim Alexander Künzler followed. In 1954, Wilhelm became an O.D. (Dr. of Optometry) at the school for Augen Optik in Cologne.
Beyond his optical expertise, Willy was a man of diverse passions. He loved gliding, often taking to the skies above the picturesque landscapes of Unterwössen, Germany, and locations like Dansville, New York, Durango, Colorado, and Temecula, California, throughout his life. His adventurous spirit extended to alpine skiing, and he delighted in passing this enthusiasm on to his children.
On August 29, 1959, he married Lois Broadway, and their family grew to include Donna Lois Williams, Jay Friedrich Künzler, and on August 28, 1960, Elizabeth Augusta Neels (Künzler). They resided in Temple City, California, forming many lasting relationships. On July 28, 1964, the family welcomed their son, Friedrich (Rick) Wilhelm Künzler.
In 1965, they relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where Willy took on the role of Director of Research and Development at Wesley and Jessen. While residing at North Elizabeth Street, they actively participated in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lombard, Illinois. His commitment to excellence extended beyond his profession as he approached woodworking, masonry, and mechanical work with the same dedication and precision that defined his career.
He had a profound love for photography. He brought his camera everywhere he went and was either snapping photos or shooting early 8mm video, documenting the family’s life, which the family still enjoys watching together.
In 1973, they settled in Rochester, New York, where Willy served as the Director of Research and Development at Bausch and Lomb, contributing to the development of the Soft Contact Lens. His entrepreneurial spirit led to the founding of Wilhelm Künzler Incorporated, where he continued to push the boundaries of contact lens materials and manufacturing processes. His inventive genius led to the creation of a revolutionary, hard-gas-permeable contact lens material approved by the FDA. He held numerous US and International Patents, dedicating significant effort to perfecting the Apollo Contact Lens molding system. Collaborating with former colleagues, they introduced the pioneering polycarbonate coined spectacle lens system named Cryzal.
Their family home on Little Spring Run in Perinton became a place of cherished memories, the family’s “hub” for over 40 years. Willy and Lois were active in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Pittsford, and he greatly loved the Lord and the friendships he made. His active involvement in scouting enriched Willy’s life. He frequently accompanied young scouts on camping trips, instilling a profound appreciation for the outdoors in his sons and grandsons. One memorable scouting adventure in the Adirondacks led to a humorous mishap when he mistook a black bear for a picnic table, narrowly avoiding an unexpected encounter!
After moving to NY, they frequently enjoyed time with Lois’ large family in Bedford, New York. He embraced her family and had many grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews and often had picnics to celebrate family and friends.
They were incredibly close with Lois’ sister, Mary Ann Dorsett (Broadway/Foglia), and mother, Mary Elizabeth Barrett (Clark/Broadway). Wilhelm was known as Uncle Willy to his many nieces and nephews and as Willhand to Mary’s first husband, Chuck (John B.). He and Chuck pursued their shared love for automotive craftsmanship, which extended to quests for Volkswagen parts to keep cars running smoothly. His skills also encompassed meticulous restoration work, including repairing a gravestone from Chichester Cemetery in Bedford, which he transported back to Rochester and meticulously restored for reinstatement. This project unknowingly connected him to Lois’ heritage, as the person memorialized, Richard (Charlie, as Wilhelm called him) Armstrong, turned out to be Lois’ fourth great-grandfather.
Mary later married John Dorsett, whom Wilhelm held in high regard. Together with Donna and Allan Gaul, the couples spent summers at John's cottage in Maine, creating cherished memories.
The times he enjoyed the most were spent with his family as they grew. He and his children and grandchildren shared many happy hours over a shared beer. (He was German, after all). Will and Lois enjoyed time at their son Jay’s home in Canandaigua, helping to restore his early 19th-century farmhouse. They spent numerous joyful hours in the country relaxing with Jay and his daughters, Maura and Brenna, and spending time in Ontario helping Beth, and her husband, Eric, restore their late 19th- century farmhouse and enjoying the patio, food, and beautiful fires for which Eric was so famous. They doted over their grandsons, Jake and Ted, and spent countless hours together, learning, flying scale gliders on the 30-acre farm, and having lots of fun. Will and Lois spent countless wonderful hours with daughter Donna, her husband Allan and daughters Michelle and Hope. They loved to travel together and went to Maine often, and Europe on several occasions.
As they aged, Willy and Lois rented an apartment in Fullerton, California, to escape the brutal Rochester winters, spending time with their son, Rick, his wife Susan, and son, Benjamin. This allowed them to relive their youthful jaunts, such as Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Susan considered him as her father, sharing a deep bond with him.
Wilhelm Künzler’s life was a remarkable journey marked by craftsmanship, innovation,an enduring spirit of family, friendship, community involvement, and a deep passion for his many hobbies. Until the end, he never lost his sense of humor or his infectious smile. Every nurse or aide who met him called him their buddy. His last word on this earth was love.
His legacy lives on in the hearts of those he touched, and he will forever be remembered as ”everybody’s Dad.”
The Willard H. Scott Funeral Home has been honored to serve the Webster community and the surrounding area for over 60 years. We remain dedicated to those we serve, providing compassion and guidance during one of life’s most difficult times.
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