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Ben Kunst



1975 - 2020 Boulder Creek

Benjamin Kridler Kunst died on July 1, 2020 in a tragic accident on his Boulder Creek property. His death came as a huge shock to everyone who knew and loved him.

Ben was a man full of love and adventure. He adored his wife Zephyr Pfotenhauer, his stepson Dante Clark, his mother, father, brother, stepmoms, in-laws, and his many friends—all of whom loved him back with a matching intensity. Ben was most happy outdoors: backpacking; riding his motorcycle; visiting botanical gardens; designing and building on his property; growing fruits, vegetables and flowers; raising pigs, chickens, and bees and participating daily in the natural cycles of harvest and growth. In all he did he was generous, talented, inquisitive, hardworking, and joy-filled. His life, though way too short, was full and rich. Please visit for an online tribute to him and to share recollections and photos with his friends and family.

Ben was bom in San Francisco in 1975 to Katharine and Richard Kunst. The family soon moved to Durham, North Carolina. Growing up, Ben loved to take things apart and could reliably put them together again. He played center on his Jordan High School football team as well as basketball and lacrosse. He followed his mechanical interests at North Carolina State University, eventually graduating with a Master of Science degree in textile engineering in 1999.

Ben was hired at Apple in 2000, first on a contract basis and then as a regular employee where he was charged with designing the machinery to test the hardware on new Apple products. Eventually promoted to Director of Reliability Engineering, Ben stayed at Apple for 14 years before tiring of the corporate life and leaving the company in 2014. After completing his dream of hiking 350 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone, he continued to work as an engineering consultant for many companies throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

Ben took great advantage of having more time to spend with his family and friends, traveling often and beautifying his Boulder Creek home with landscaping, construction projects and functionally artistic additions. He loved making his famous Southern biscuits for Sunday brunches and hosted many cookouts and dinner parties featuring produce from his abundant garden. He was a great fan of all kinds of music and particularly enjoyed supporting the area’s many local bands, breweries and visual artists.

Ben is survived by his beloved Zephyr, his stepson Dante, his mother Katharine and wife Katherine Fulton, his father Richard and wife Bibby Moore, his brother Franz and wife Michelle Polzine, and a multitude of friends. His very particular enthusiasm, laughter, twinkle, zest for life and love of fun can never be replaced. He is sorely missed.

A private wake for the family and close friends was held on July 8, 2020 at his family home. A larger celebration of Ben’s life will be held at a future date when the COVID-19 pandemic allows. Please visit to keep in touch and for information about contributions to the organizations he supported in his lifetime.

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