Joe Hunsaker


     Joe Hunsaker, who passed away March 11, 2012 at age 74, struggled with multiple sclerosis since 1978 and cancer recently. He is survived by his beloved wife, Charmaine Wilke Hunsaker who has been a loving partner for the past ten years, his children: Scot Hunsaker (Sue), Stephanie Hunsaker Policy (Al), Eric Hunsaker (Cindy) their mother and good friend Sandra McCarroll Hunsaker, grandchildren Brooke and Benjamin Hunsaker., step family members: Patrick Wilke, Thomas Wilke, Mary Carbrey, their children and grandchildren. A private Celebration of a Life gathering will be held by the family with his ashes later scattered in a picturesque lake in the Ozarks which was the setting for many treasured memories throughout his childhood and adult as well as representing Joe’s lifelong association with water and the outdoors.
     In 1970, Joe and James E. “Doc” Counsilman” PhD, Joe’s former swimming coach, joined forces to create Counsilman / Hunsaker & Associates, a consulting firm serving architects and owners in the creation of international class swimming pools. Counsilman’s reputation of developing more Olympians and world record holders than any other coach in the world and Joe’s experience as a champion swimmer, management company owner and an award winning designer soon brought prestigious projects to their door.
     Joe Hunsaker was active on the national scene as a board member of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, president of the National Swim and Recreation Association, a board member of the International Swimming Hall Of Fame, a board member of the Internationale  Academie fur Baderbauten und Freizeit Hallen, (Germany) and the Chairman of the Public Pool Council of the National Spa and Pool Institute.
     He was recognized as one of the premier designers of international class competition swimming and diving pools; having completed venues for the 1996 Olympic Games, the 1994 Commonwealth Games, The 1994 World University Games and the 1998 Goodwill Games. Other projects include the University Of Limerick –  Ireland; Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, Ohio State University, and the University of Georgia. Non education facilities include The Pentagon-US military headquarters, The Nike World Campus pools and the Indianapolis Natatorium.
     The dusty pastures outside of Girard, Kansas during the Great Depression were certainly not a harbinger of the life Joe would pursue. If there had not been unforeseen tragedies, Joe Hunsaker would have likely taken over his father’s thriving live stock business, but all that changed on a dark March night in 1944 when a blizzard obscured visability causing a locomotive to strike the semi trailer driven by Joe’s father which was headed for home and loaded to capacity with cattle. The collision killed his father and every head of livestock riding in the truck.   
      Joe was six years old when the stranger came to the door after dark on a cold night with wind blowing snow off the Kansas plain and told his mother her husband had been killed. Then three years later and with a new stepfather the family of three moved to south St. Louis. Five years afterwards Joe walked through a door that literally changed his life. It was the door to the Cleveland High School swimming pool.
     At 130 lbs and 6’1”, Joe was planning to spend four years on the Cleveland basketball squad, but while waiting for that season to begin, he went out for the swim team. Four months later he realized that he had a talent for the wet sport and he never went back to basketball. After finishing 6th in the State Meet his freshman year, second his sophomore year, he won two State Championships each in his junior and his senior years along with a National YMCA Championship. It was during his junior year in high school that his mother died. 
     Joe was recruited by several schools and he chose the University of Illinois where he began to compete his sophomore season and finished 5th and the NCAA National Championships. Disappointed in his results, he asked the famous coach, “Doc” Counsilman, if he could train with his handful of elite swimmers the following summer. The day after classes were over at Illinois, Joe began hitchhiking to Cortland NY, where he trained with Olympians and national champions. The following season he won the National NCAA Championship in the 200 Individual Medley. He then won the same event the following year at the National AAU Championships with records in both races. The previous January he had bettered the world long course record.
     In reviewing his life, Joe often stated that other than watching his children grow up, competing in swimming and designing swimming pools for world records, his favorite avocation was traveling around the world visiting countries for pleasure and business while making friends along the way.
     As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) or the Multiple Sclerosis Society.



  1. Tami Annin-Fritz on March 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    R.I.P Joe
    I will miss you

  2. Chris Guion on March 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Deepest sympathy to the Hunsaker family from Toni and Chris Guion. We worked and were members at Country Hill Swim Club for many years. R.I.P. Joe

  3. Bill Stewart on March 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

    My sincere sympathy to all of Joe’s family.
    We started in business about the same time and I did the architecture for some his first small pool complexes. Later he would call on some small interesting issues. I took pleasure in following his great success in business. But more importantly I enjoyed him as a person. God Bless

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