Obituary for James Edward "Jim" Kundell
. James E. (Jim) Kundell died April 19, 2017, at his home in Watkinsville, GA. Jim was born on September 7, 1944 in Syracuse, New York, to the late Edward James Kundell and Isabelle Caufield Kundell. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Linda Meloling Kundell formerly of Syracuse, New York; son Daniel James Kundell (Lori) of Oakwood, GA; daughter Elizabeth Kundell Bird (Glenn) of Ooltewah, TN; four grandchildren (Riley, Tate and Aidan Bird and Zachery Kundell); three siblings (Dr. Frederick Kundell (Karen) of Salisbury, MD; Kathleen Shumway of Mexico, NY; and Jeanne Wilson (Thomas) of Burlington, VT) and; several cousins, nieces and nephews.
Jim grew up in Pulaski, NY and received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York at Oswego and his Ph.D. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University. While working on his masters and doctoral degrees, Jim taught life science at Marcellus Central School in Marcellus, NY.
Upon completing his Ph.D. in 1977, Jim joined the faculty of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to provide scientific support to the Georgia General Assembly. Throughout his 30-year career as Science Adviser to the General Assembly, Dr. Kundell focused his research and outreach efforts primarily on the environmental and natural resource challenges facing the State of Georgia and the Southeast. He created and served as the Director of the Institute’s Environmental Policy Program and authored or co-authored over 150 books, policy monographs and articles. There are three major legislative initiatives with which he is most closely identified. Municipal Solid Waste Reduction and Management: In 1990, following publication of a monograph on solid waste challenges facing Georgia, Dr. Kundell was appointed to represent the University System of Georgia, on the joint legislative study committee that developed amendments to the Georgia Solid Waste Management Act, where he took the lead in pulling the parties together to address a number of contentious issues. The Act passed the General Assembly without a negative vote. In recognition of his efforts, he was presented the Georgia Man of the Year Award by Governor Joe Frank Harris. Jim was also a primary author of the Georgia Solid Waste Reduction and Management Plan and worked closely with the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissions of Georgia to implement the plan.
Land Conservation: In the early 1990s, considerable concern emerged over increasing growth along Georgia’s coast. Dr. Kundell was the lead author of a policy monograph evaluating the effectiveness of the 1970 Coastal Marshlands Protection Act. His recommendations were enacted in 1992 when Governor Zell Miller introduced a package of environmental legislation. He also served on the advisory committee that proposed legislation that authorized Georgia's participation in the federal Coastal Zone Management Program. In 1998, Governor Roy Barnes proposed his Community Greenspace Program. Dr. Kundell staffed the Greenspace Commission and was a primary author of the Georgia Community Greenspace Plan. He also served as co-project director for Governor Sonny Perdue’s Land Conservation Partnership Plan and was a major author of the plan.
Comprehensive Water Management Plan: In 1998, Dr. Kundell was the lead author of a monograph on Georgia water rights (Whose Water Is It: Major Water Allocation Issues Facing Georgia) and two years later he and his colleagues published a monograph calling for the state to develop a comprehensive water management plan (Comprehensive State Water Management Plan: A Framework for Managing Georgia’s Water Resources). These publications led to the creation of the Joint Water Plan Study Committee and the 50-member Water Plan Advisory Committee. Dr. Kundell chaired the advisory committee and he and his colleagues staffed the overall effort, which resulted in the passage of legislation to develop a state water management plan in 2004, the ratification of the Georgia Comprehensive State-wide Water Plan in 2008, and development of regional water plans. In recognition of his outreach efforts, Dr. Kundell was named the Walter B. Hill Distinguished Public Service Fellow in 1994 by the University of Georgia. Dr. Kundell's science advisory program for the Georgia General Assembly was identified as one of six “exemplary” mechanisms nationally for providing scientific and technological support to state policy makers by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government. In 2013, both houses of the General Assembly adopted resolutions commending Dr. Kundell's distinguished and dedicated service to the State of Georgia and recognizing him for his many contributions to environmental protection and natural resources conservation.
Based on his wit as well as his wisdom, Jim was a noted communicator which led to him giving well over a thousand invited presentations during his career. In addition, he was an excellent instructor. Dr. Kundell was offered and accepted a joint appointment as Professor in UGA's Odum School of Ecology where he taught a graduate course in environmental policy and management. He also chaired and served on numerous committees including six years on the Environmental Advisory Board to the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, four years as the board chairman. Upon rotating off the board, Lt. General Thomas Bostwick, Chief of the Corps of Engineers, presented him with the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, the highest award bestowed upon a civilian by the Corps. Internationally he worked in a number of countries, including Ukraine, Brazil and China. In 2000, Dr. Kundell was awarded the honorary faculty title of Professor of Ecology at the Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management and the International Personnel Academy in Kiev, Ukraine.
Dr. Kundell retired from the University of Georgia in 2007 with the title of Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources Emeritus. He remained active during his retirement, consulting, giving guest lectures and presentations, pursuing his passion in nature photography, and enjoying his family and friends.
A Celebration of Jim’s Life will be held at the Stratford Condominium Clubhouse, 43 S. Stratford Drive, Athens, GA 30605 on May 7, 2017, at 2:00 pm.
At the family’s request please do not send flowers to the Celebration of Life. The family specifically requests that any financial gifts or monetary memorials of Jim be provided to the ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation – Dr. Jim Kundell Environmental Management Internship / Fellowship Program.
Financial contributions/memorials should be sent to ACCG Civic Affairs Foundation c/o Ross King – Executive Director, 191 Peachtree Street Suite 700, Atlanta, GA 30303. This is a 501(c)3 organization and all contributions are tax deductible.