Kurt Zuhlke, founder of the packaging firm Kurt Zuhlke & Associates Inc., died March 19 at the age of 88. Zuhlke suffered a stroke about nine months ago and recently took a turn for the worse, according to his son, Kurt Zuhlke Jr., who is president of the company.
Zuhlke was born Dec. 15, 1922, in Bremerhaven, Germany, and came to the U.S. as an infant with his parents who settled in Long Island, N.Y. A World War II veteran, Zuhlke served in the U.S. Army at the Battle of the Bulge and was in a recon group that was the first to liberate death camps in Birkenau, Germany, according to his son.
The younger Zuhlke said his father became a chiropractor after the war but found he didn’t like staying indoors and listening to people complain about their aches and pains, so he ventured into the produce business, founding his packaging company in 1955.
“Everyone in produce knows about him and his innovations with packaging,” said Kurt Zuhlke Jr. “He moved trends forward and turned regional companies into national ones. He loved the job and didn’t retire until he was 80. He was a real man’s man ... I can’t fill those kind of shoes.”
The senior Zuhlke was a member of the Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, as well as other trade organizations.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years Frieda Zuhlke. Other survivors, in addition to Kurt Zuhlke Jr., include: two daughters, Juliann Temer and Barbara Zuhlke; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were March 23. The family suggests memorial contributions to the Monroe County Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 144, Stroudsburg, PA, 18360.