Dr. Joseph Edward Kapler, Sr., 95, of Dubuque, passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 18, 2019 with family. Visitation will be Monday, April 22nd from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. with wake service following at the Egelhof, Siegert & Casper Westview Funeral Home, 2659 Kennedy Road, Dubuque. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection; burial to follow immediately at Resurrection Cemetery.
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Dr. Kapler was born on March 13, 1924 in Cresco, Iowa, the son of Albert and Mary (Drilling) Kapler. As a young man, he worked on the family farm and became a skilled farmer. Upon on his 18th birthday, the U.S. Selective Service assigned him to work for two years on another farm in order to maintain wartime food production. He then attended Loras College and received a Bachelor of Science degree (1948). He later obtained a Master of Science from Marquette University (1953) and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin (1958) and returned to Loras to rejoin the faculty. He married Helen Bamrick of Rockwell, Iowa in 1959 and raised their family at their home in Asbury, Iowa.
He retired in 1989 after 37 years of teaching in the Loras College biology department. During his tenure, Dr. Kapler was highly involved in many professional organizations and committees focusing the areas of phenology (the study of plant and animal life cycles) and entomology (the study of insects). He participated in the national research effort to stop the progression of Dutch Elm Disease in the 1960s and worked for years trying to save the majestic elm trees along Dubuque’s Rhomberg Avenue. He received the Loras College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005 and was a Professor Emeritus.
Besides teaching, Dr. Kapler was highly involved with multiple wildlife and conservation organizations, including the Dubuque County Conservation Society. In 1976 he was named Dubuque County Conservationist-of-the-Year. He was an active member of Resurrection Catholic Church serving a term on the Parish Council and a term on Asbury Planning and Zoning Commission.
In 1967 Joe, Sr. and Helen purchased woodland in Jones County which became over the years a living laboratory for tree and habitat restoration, home to large family gardens, and a recreational get-away appreciated and enjoyed by generations of family and friends.
Dr. Kapler is survived by his children and their spouses: David and Jennifer (Nicks), Mark and Tracie (Lenz), Mary Kapler and Shawn Blythe, and Joe, Jr. and Erin Hoag. Nine grandchildren: Zach, Alex, and Emma Kapler; Christopher, Jack, Sam, and Martin Blythe; and Kasey and Kylie Kapler. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Helen, and beloved dog, Bear. Siblings: Clara, Victor, Rita and Vitalis Kapler. In-laws: Martin Bamrick, Jack Bamrick, Jim Nowell and Sharon Bamrick.
His children would like to thank those who helped Joe live healthy and comfortably the past few years. Alex, Kim and the entire Grand Meadows staff for the care given to their father. Hospice of Dubuque; especially his nurse Janette. Dr. Mark Runde and the staff at Medical Associates.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Dr. Kapler’s name.