Edwin Willard Huntoon, age 93, of Waupaca, passed away peacefully on Thursday evening, February 3, with his loving family at his side. He was born in Rural, WI on September 25, 1917, the son of Edsil and Ruby (Bucknell) Huntoon. He was united in marriage to Ruby Koplien on March 29, 1961. Ed graduated from Waupaca High School in 1936. He established himself early in his life as an extremely hard working, very hands-on person. In his youth, he had a paper route, worked on his father’s potato and vegetable farms, managed a gas station, and clerked at the A&P store. Ed studied printing and journalism at the Aurora School of Photo Engraving in Missouri. He owned and operated the Northland Engraving Service in Waupaca, where he provided newspaper cuts to many papers including the Waupaca County Post. He then went on to work at the Federal Powder project in Merrimac, Wisconsin.
His earliest jobs also included rock drilling and operating crushers, bull dozers and other heavy equipment in quarries in the Waupaca area. These heavy equipment-operating skills would become the basis for the rest of his career. He worked with the Waupaca County Highway Department, on construction of the Baraboo Army Ammunition Plant with Mason Hanger Company, transported supplies to an Arctic oil well site in the Arctic Circle with Bechtel-Price-Callahan, and operated large machinery during the creation of the Alaskan Highway with Morrison Knudsen and the Metcalfe Hamilton Kansas City Bridge Company. During World War II, he worked in the Aleutian Islands, building air bases in the Arctic Circle, where he became superintendant of drilling rock quarries for the Army. He went to Germany with the US Army shortly after the war ended, where he had the opportunity to attend the Nuremburg Trials on two separate occasions. Upon his return after the war, Ed worked with Huntoon farms, and eventually ran his own businesses in Waupaca from 1946-1961. He excavated many basements, farm and city water lines, steel erecting, footings, sewers and septic tank installations in Central Wisconsin. In 1957 he designed and built a cutterhead suction dredge, forming Huntoon Excavation and Dredging. He was a licensed pump installer and Master Plumber.
Recognized by colleagues as “Mr. Groundwater Protection”, he committed his life to the water industry. In 1965, Ed started his career with drilling equipment, tools and supplies. He managed Manawa Pump & Well Supply, Leslie Manufacturing and Supply, and Drillers Service & Supply. He was a sales engineer and district manager for some of the leading drilling and mining equipment companies in the nation, including Speedstar Intl, Kennametal, Gardner Denver and Ingersoll Rand. He worked as project manager and technical advisor on many drilling and mining projects, including test drilling projects for tunneling, large shafts, and irrigation wells, and the largest underground iron mines. He provided training for drilling technology. He spent over three years on a special water well mission to Algeria, 280 miles into the Sahara Desert. He and Ruby lived in Tunisia for several months where he led a water project involving 8 drilling rigs which could drill to 8000 feet. He also assisted with a UNICEF drilling project in Ethiopia, and supervised water drilling projects in Yemen, Thailand, and St. Maarten. He devoted much time and energy to the Wisconsin Water Well Guild. He participated in improvements with water well codes and regulations, and was the Editor of the Wisconsin Water Well Association newsletter and Continuing Education Technical Guide for many years (into his 80s). He was honored with many lifetime achievement awards, including the prestigious Floyd Oliver Award, which isthe highest honor granted by the National Ground Water Association. In 2003, the Wisconsin Water Well Association established the “Ed Huntoon Scholarship Fund” in his honor to enable the preservation of Wisconsin’s groundwater. Recently, he served as the Chair of the Waupaca Wellhead Protection Commission, and enjoyed testing water wells in the area. In addition to work, Ed enjoyed as much time as possible with family and friends. He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church inWaupaca. He was an active member of the VFW Post 1037. He was a member of the Nomads Club, past board member of the Rural Historical Society. He especially enjoyed the friendships and workouts at the Waupaca Fitness Center. He will be dearly missed by his wife of nearly 50 years, Ruby; children: Peri (Ernie) Kott of Appleton, Patricia (John) Huebner of Iowa, Kathleen (Dean) Oehlke of Texas, Steven (Sharon) Minton of Waupaca, Andrew (Linda) Huntoon of Grand Chute, Kevin (Denice) Minton of Waupaca, Lori Huntoon of Beloit and Joseph Huntoon of Waupaca; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grand children; three great great-grandchildren; two sisters: Lois Clarkson of Washington and Crystal Strebe of Weyauwega. Edwin was preceded in death by his parents; son and daughter-in-law, Lynwood (Susan) Huntoon; sister, Arlene Anthony; and three brothers-in-law: John Clark son, Orville Strebe, and Robert Anthony. The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1120 Evans St., Waupaca, with Pastor Jeff Holtan officiating. Visitation was held Monday evening from 4-7 p.m. at the Maple Crest Funeral Home with a VFW service at 6:30 p.m. Visitation continued Tuesday morning at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. Burial will take place at Lakeside Cemetery. A memorial fund is being established in Edwin’s name.
The family would like to extend appreciation to Doctor Bauer and Doctor Anderson, the staffs of Riverside Medical Center, Theda Clark, and Bethany Home for their outstanding care and compassion.