Joe Hunsaker’s Passing

Joe Hunsaker

Joe Hunsaker

Joe Hunsaker, who died March 11, 2012 at age 74, struggled with multiple sclerosis since 1978  and cancer recently, 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.

Joe was born outside of Girard, Kansas during the great depression.  He would have likely taken over his father’s thriving livestock business if there had not been the tragedy of a train accident that killed his father and every head of livestock they owned.  Three years later at age 9 and with a new stepfather, Joe moved to south St. Louis.

At age 14, Joe walked through 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, He won two State Championships each in his junior year and his senior year 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. Because the NCAA banned competition for freshmen in all sports in those days, he began to compete his sophomore season and finished 5th and 6th at 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 world record holders. 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.

15 Comments to Joe Hunsaker’s Passing

  1. Stephanie Hunsaker Policy
    March 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I love you Dad. I always have and always will, and I’m very proud of you!

  2. March 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Joe will be missed. We are privileged to have know him.

  3. March 12, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink


    Joe always struck me as a fair minded man and an innovator in the truest sense of the word. In a very real sense, he created the modern aquatic consultancy industry and made a lasting impression on not only our industry, but also on the many individuals who work to make aquatics better. He touched many lives and will be missed.


  4. Bill Kent
    March 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sue, Scot and Family:
    Joe and I first met more than 20 years ago through our mutual support of the NSPF. I have so many great memories of the brilliant observations, sense of humor and sharp critiical thinking skills of your Dad.
    One of the beneifits of participation is meeting people you would not normally come in contact with. Joe is at the top of my list. Be consoled by the fact that he lived a full and productive life and left all that he touched a little better than he found it. The Good Lord will welcome him with open arms.

  5. Dwayne
    March 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    My heart felt sympathy goes out to you Scot, Sue and your entire family. In all my personal and business life I have never met a man I had more respect for than Joe. He understood a measure of a man was his children and his character. In both he was truly a Champion and I feel a true sense of loss with Joe’s passing. It was an honor to have known him.


  6. March 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I was deeply saddened to see this. I have wonderful memories of Joe; I always felt a kinship with him because he reminds me so much of my own father. He stood by me with a great deal of patience when I first started in the aquatics industry, taking the time to explain to me “why” and “what for” even when I did not agree. I would walk away thinking ……. “There is no way he is right”. However over time I would find when it came to aquatics……he was right. He was a great teacher and I consider it an honor that I had the fortunate opportunity to work for and with him. He will be missed.

  7. Michael Furrer
    March 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I was never a CEO or vice president of a company but Joe always treated me with the same respect. He will be always be remembered for his contributions to the aquatic industry but I will most remember him for being, simply put, a good person. I am blessed to have known him as are we all.

    • Jeff Boynton
      March 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Scot, I was saddened to hear of your father’s passing and just wanted to send you my best wishes to you and your family during this sad time.

  8. Diane Gibson
    March 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Dear Scot, Susan, Brooke, Ben, Charmaine and Family
    I am really very sorry for your loss. Joe was truly
    one of a kind, a true gentleman, and a generous soul.
    I know he will be sorely missed. Please know that I
    am praying for you all.
    Diane Gibson

  9. March 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Joe was an incredible ambassador to the swimming industry and had a gift of articulating his message with the utmost integrity and honesty while being straightforward and to the point. I always knew where Joe stood on an issue and felt confident that whatever advice he provided was more than likely heading you in the right direction. I have lost a great mentor. I’ll miss you Joe.

  10. Jim Foard
    March 14, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Dearest Scott, Sue, Brook and Benjamin: Even though I never met your Father I do know that Joe raised a wonderful family and left behind a wonderful legacy, with a sense of community and above all he was a great Father and Mentor. Leah and I want you to know that we are truly saddened to hear of your loss. Joe is truly in a better place. John 3:16
    Jim Foard and Family

  11. Janet Shaughnessy
    March 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Dear Scot,
    What a wonderful story of your Father’s life and accomplishments.
    We are very sorry for your loss,

  12. John Lamson
    March 15, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I am saddened by my cousins death. He was always kind to me and treated me like a brother. Many fond memories of you, Joe. Blessings to all your family. Johnny.

  13. Mike Derickson
    March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink


    my sympathy goes out to you and your family. I have always held a special spot in my heart for Joe. He welcomed me. When my mother in law passed away he was there at the funeral and even went so far as to donate money to my wife’s brother and sister.

    He will be missed.

    Mike D.

  14. Kathy J
    March 16, 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Dear Scott and your family,

    My heart and prayers go out to you during this difficult time. Please know that he’s in a better place with no more pain or suffering. Take care.

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