James Munkwitz

Obituary of James Donald Munkwitz

James D. Munkwitz

James Donald Munkwitz was born on January 13, 1959, in St. Paul, MN, to Donald and Carol Munkwitz. Jim passed away unexpectedly, on May 11, 2024. Jim, or Coach Munk as he was most widely known, grew up on the West Side of St. Paul. He attended Roosevelt Elementary and Junior High School and completed his senior high years at Humboldt High School. Throughout his youth, he participated in sports every season of the year including football, wrestling, hockey, and baseball. Coach Munk was a graduate of Concordia University where he majored in education and played football. Many life-long friendships developed as a result of Jim’s athletic career.

Jim’s family was always his number one priority. Jim was married on July 28th, 1990 to the love of his life, Mary Gallagher. Together they had two children—Jake and Frankie. No parent could be prouder. The family settled in Glenwood City, WI prior to the kids beginning high school. Jim loved his growing family as both of his kids got married. Jake and his wife Whitney welcomed their daughter Caroline early in 2023, and Frankie and her husband Tom welcomed their daughter Camryn six months later. Papa loved his girls with all his heart; they will grow up being reminded of that love. Jim’s beloved grandpuppies Millie, Hank, and Dolly will miss him dearly.

Jim spent his entire career with the St. Paul Public Schools where he worked with the most vulnerable students. He retired after 33 years of dedicated service in January 2024. His extensive coaching career began with the district while he was still in college and continued up until his passing. He wasn’t done in the coaching arena and we have no doubt he would have been involved in coaching his grandchildren sometime soon – Papa was so excited to have two hockey players. Outside of his coaching tenure with the St. Paul schools, Coach Munk also coached youth sports on the West Side, legion baseball in Wisconsin, and coached football at Concordia University.

In addition to his passion of coaching, Jim enjoyed family time and getting together with extended family and friends, especially at Christmas and Memorial Day gatherings, road trips to attend Jake and Frankie’s sporting events, tailgating at Concordia University football and softball games, fishing, golfing, having bonfires, and drinking beer!

Along with his immediate family, Jim is survived by his siblings: Ruth (Kevin) Bourlard, Cindy, Dennis, Mary (Ed) Gabbert, and Laurie (Tom) Tone; his in-law family: mother-in-law Eva Gallagher, sisters-in-law Tamie, (Dan) Dowd, Terry (Tim) Knutson, Eva (Paul Hamlin) Gallagher, and brothers-in-law Jim (Chris) Gallagher, Joe (Judy) Gallagher and Tom (Diane) Gallagher. Jim is further survived by many nieces and nephews, cousins and other family members, and a wide network of teammates, players and coaches as well as many, many friends. Jim was preceded in death by his parents Don and Carol Munkwitz, his father-in-law Jim Gallagher, his sister-in-law Kathy Gallagher, and his niece Shelley Gabriel.

A family funeral will be held, with inurnment at Riverview Cemetery in St. Paul. You’re invited to celebrate Jim’s (Coach Munk’s) life at a gathering on Monday, May 27th (Memorial Day), at the Arcade Phalen American Legion Post 577, 1129 Arcade Street, St. Paul, from 2 to 6 p.m. Feel free to park in the Johnson High School parking lot located at 1349 Arcade St. A shuttle bus will run every 15 minutes between these two locations. Please wear apparel from your favorite sports team. Memorials will be used to establish a scholarship in Coach Munk’s name.

A Memorial Tree was planted for James
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society of Minnesota
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