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Justin M. Kunick, chemistry teacher, baseball coach Feb. 24, 1980 -- April 27, 2012

A beloved chemistry teacher and varsity baseball coach who taught his students in Florida to "rise above" will be remembered Saturday at the Wales Center Community Baptist Church.

Justin M. Kunick was born in Naperville, Ill., and moved to Wales Center when he was four. He graduated from Iroquois High School in 1998 and then from Keuka College in 2002, where he played on the varsity baseball team, setting several team records.

From the time he was a newborn, Mr. Kunick struggled with heart problems but always overcame them with admirable determination. Ailments left him temporarily paralyzed on the right side of his body when he was a toddler. His family believes that's how he ended up a left-handed pitcher.

After working as a substitute teacher for a couple of years in Michigan, Mr. Kunick landed a full-time teaching job in Hudson, Fla.

Mr. Kunick had become the varsity coach at Fivay High School when, in January, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Through his surgeries and chemotherapy, Kunick continued coaching from his hospital bed with the help of his father. Terry Kunick would call his son after each inning to report on how the team was doing.

"Their final game, he coached from his hospice bed," Terry Kunick said.

Mr. Kunick died April 27 while in hospice in New Port Richey. He was 32.

He is survived by his father and mother, Marilyn Kunick; his wife, the former Anne Hastie; a brother, Joseph; and two sisters, Jeanette Wolff and Jody Smaszcz.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Wales Center Community Baptist Church, with friends and family gathering an hour beforehand.

[becker]