Remembering Joe Gunterman ’34

Just a year ago in the In Memoriam section I learned of the death of Joseph Gunterman ’34. I was surprised on two counts. I was surprised and pleased to learn that he had had such a long productive life, countering the bromide that the good go young. And I was surprised to learn that he was a graduate from Reed College. 

I had worked together with him and Emmy in the late 1960s and early 1970s and as an unpaid lobbyist during California legislative sessions. He was obviously a well-educated,  cultured, literate man with a broad base of knowledge and many interests, but our attendance at Reed just never came up.

He headed up a loose informal group of what he termed “The Good Guy Lobbyists,” representatives of nonprofit organizations with social and educational goals. I was a very inexperienced lobbyist for early childhood education. He and Emmy mentored me, gently guiding, modeling, and informing me about how to be effective. His humanitarian goals for justice with the Friends Committee on Legislation fitted well with my organization’s goals for basic standards for day care and minimum required standards for caregivers. We in the group cooperated by mutually supporting legislative actions that benefited children, farm workers, families, and other social justice concerns and issues. I remember testifying from a child development perspective before a Senate committee about the importance of school nutrition programs for the ability for children to concentrate and learn. Senator Moscone, later to be assassinated with Harvey Milk, joked that maybe the committee members just needed nutrition when they became testy and irritable. 

At that time the Guntermans were still living on their acreage in Gridley, and Emmy and I sometimes talked about the benefits and trials of rural life. She gave me her recipe for quiche that I still use today. Her chickens were good producers! It was through Emmy’s connections that I became involved in providing child care at a Sacramento Catholic church for the children of César Chavez’s farm workers after their 1966 march to Sacramento.

Joseph Gunterman and his wife Emmy Gunterman were thoroughly good human beings. They not only had concerns for their fellow beings, they effectively acted on their beliefs. They helped me learn how to advocate for my own beliefs. I am most privileged to have known and worked with them both.

—Marian Posey ’51

Jerome, Idaho