Cover photo for Robert Kunold's Obituary
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1937 Robert 2022

Robert Kunold

December 7, 1937 — November 11, 2022

Bob Kunold passed away on Veterans Day, 2022, aged 84. Although in the military only four years, they taught him to fly, which played a big role in his life. Bob was born and raised in Southern California, earned a Physics degree from Cal-Poly Pomona, and entered the military soon thereafter. About the same time he charmed his wife Carol, and they soon eloped in a marriage that lasted 61 years. Bob and Carol settled on Bainbridge Island in the mid-1960s, where they raised 5 children.

In the Navy, Bob flew the P2V-Neptune during the Vietnam War. Upon his departure from the Navy, Bob joined Northwest Airlines, initially flying Boeing 707s, 727s, and spent the bulk of his time flying 747s, retiring as Captain of the B747-400, after a 28-year career. Bob was an excellent pilot, known by his peers as a stellar airman and once safely landing a 727 in Billings, Montana after the plane suffered a catastrophic engine failure during take-off.

But Bob’s real focus was on his family. When not traveling for work, Bob enjoyed his kids’ sports, with numerous weekends at gymnastic and track meets, horse jumping competitions, tennis matches and Friday night football games -- he even coached a Little League baseball team one year, featuring his two sons on a team that struggled to win a single game.

In addition, boating was a central part of the Kunold family life. Starting with overnight trips to Blake Island on a small runabout, Bob graduated up in boats through the years: a 23’ Penn Yan into which he crammed Carol and all five kids for multi-week trips to British Columbia; a 40’ wooden cruiser which brought the family together a bit too much with varnishing and hull maintenance; a 42’ Uniflite that he and his oldest son Robert Jr. navigated on a ten-week journey through the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay; briefly a 48’ Tollycraft; and finally his dream boat: a 60’ Lien Hwa named “Final Approach” which he and Carol used to “head North” nearly every summer during his retirement.

Bob enjoyed good food, fine drink and funny jokes. The more of each the better. It was never wise to pull his finger. He was always the life of the party, with a twinkle in his eye, a drink in his hand, and a joke for every occasion. When asked how his kids are doing, his typical response was “They’re doing great, they’re all out of jail right now.” He even had a few unique skills – one he was most proud of was the ability to identify people from behind – the capstone evidence of this capability being the time he correctly identified William F. Buckley, Jr. walking ahead of him in an airport terminal.

Bob is survived by his wife Carol, five children (Christine Hansen (Paul); Robert Kunold, Jr. (Vicky); Mark Kunold (Lesley); Stephanie Kunold and Nikki Potts (Tim)), 17 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a sister, Joni Bayler. 

The funeral service will be held at St. Cecilia Catholic Church (Bainbridge Island) at 11:00 a.m. on November 21st . The family asks that memorial donations be sent to Wounded Warrior Project or Saint Cecilia Catholic School Patrons’ Endowment.

Friends may join the livestream at the following link:

Arrangements are entrusted to the Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Kunold, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, November 21, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Pacific time)


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