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Joseph F. Kuchta, who spent almost 40 years with MIT as a safety officer and later golf coach, and who was renowned for his work with Alpha Phi Omega and other charitable organizations, died on Monday, June 23. He was 88.
Out of high school, Kuchta enrolled in the Navy, where he spent 10 years on active duty. Upon his honorable discharge, he enrolled in, and later graduated from Tufts University in 1952.
After graduation, he came to MIT to work on researching fuel elements for nuclear submarines. While doing that work, his Navy medical training led his superiors to rely on him for their safety procedures and first aid issues. Kuchta would go on to consult numerous departments and facilities on safety issues before moving to the Safety Office full time in the early 1960s.
Kuchta retired from the Safety Office in 1986, only to take on the role of golf coach from Jack Barry in 1995. He retired a second time in 2003, but even then remained active at MIT.
Kuchta first became involved in Alpha Phi Omega through the Alpha Chi chapter at MIT and its affiliation with the New England wheelchair games in 1968. Alpha Chi was building temporary wheelchair ramps on the MIT campus; as safety officer, and just helping out, Kuchta was working closely with the games. He was listed as an active adviser to the organization as recently as last month and was also active in the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross.
Kuchta received the annual James N. Murphy Award in 1983, given to an employee whose spirit and loyalty exemplify inspired and dedicated service, especially with regard to students.
A funeral will be held at the Gaffey Funeral Home, 43 High St., Medford Square, Medford, on Friday, June 26, at 9 a.m. Funeral Mass in St. Raphael's Church, Medford, at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours will be held today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, donations in Joe's name may be made to the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, 17 Court St., Boston, MA 02108. A memorial fund will also be established in his name at MIT. For more information, contact Bonny Kellermann at (617) 253-9722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.