August 11, 2003 - Star Tribune: Central African Republic RPCV John Alan Pukite dead at 39

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Central African Republic: Peace Corps Central African Republic : The Peace Corps in the Central African Republic: August 11, 2003 - Star Tribune: Central African Republic RPCV John Alan Pukite dead at 39

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, August 11, 2003 - 9:47 am: Edit Post

Central African Republic RPCV John Alan Pukite dead at 39

Central African Republic RPCV John Alan Pukite dead at 39

Obituary: Biochemist-author John Alan Pukite dead at 39

Steve Alexander, Star Tribune

Published August 11, 2003


John Alan Pukite, a 39-year-old Minneapolis biochemist who authored quirky books about cows and pigs and won the 1999 Minnesota Book Award for "Hiking Minnesota," died Thursday of complications from leukemia.

An avid researcher who was insatiably curious about everything from farm animals to the history of breakfast cereal, Pukite (pronounced Pu-kee'-tee) "was a Renaissance kind of guy" who served in the Peace Corps, worked as a government fisheries biologist in Alaska, wrote books and dabbled in home remodeling, woodworking and computers, said his wife, Mary Pukite.

"He was one of these people who are sort of self-taught in lots of things. He'd get a book at the library, learn about something and then do it," she said.

Pukite, who received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1986, became fascinated by the many kinds of cows he saw in farm fields while driving across the country, she said. In 1996, he published his first book, "Field Guide to Cows, How to Identify and Appreciate America's 52 Breeds," which mixed factual information with humor.

In 1999, he published "Field Guide to Pigs," which included information about pig breeds and fun facts such as how to roast a pig Hawaiian-style. At the time of his death, Pukite was working on a book about the history of toasted bread, and was planning another book about breakfast cereal. His "Hiking Minnesota" is a guide to 87 hiking routes ranging from short walks to multi-day backpacking-camping trips.

"He liked writing about the history behind ordinary things," Mary Pukite said.

Besides his wife, Pukite's survivors include his daughter, Madeline Estrella Amelie; his mother, Astrida; sister, Sandra, and brother, Paul.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul.

Steve Alexander is at

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Story Source: Star Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Central African Republic; Obituaries



By Adam Rabiner ( on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 9:04 pm: Edit Post

I learned of John's death in 2003 but had not read his obituary until now. We trained together in Zaire and both served in CAR. I remember him as a quiet, kind, decent person and considered him a friend. I had no idea he was as brilliant as he went on to demonstrate in his all too brief life.

By Jim Donaldson ( on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 1:38 am: Edit Post

I knew John when he worked here in Alaska in 1992-3. He was a great person to experience Alaska with! I have great memories that I share with family and friends about John.

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