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Joseph Wythe

October 18, 1920 - September 30, 2019

Obituary Viewed 572 times

Joseph Henry Wythe, 98, passed away on Monday, September 30, 2019 in Sandpoint, Idaho.

He was born on October 18, 1920 in San Jose, California to Joseph Hills Wythe and Elsie Twelker Wythe.

Wythe worked as a journeyman carpenter before starting his architectural studies at UC Berkeley, which were interrupted by World War II.  During the War, he served on B-24 bombers based in Italy, and flew missions over Germany and southern Europe.  After the war, his wartime experience inspired him to become active in the peace movement.

After returning from the war, Wythe met Bruce Goff, and later Frank Lloyd Wright, two giants of modern American architecture.  He did graduate work with Goff at the University of Oklahoma, School of Architecture, recognized by many as the world’s finest architectural school at that time.

After several years in Oklahoma, he returned to California where he set up his architectural studio on the Monterey Peninsula.  Wythe taught architecture at Monterey Peninsula College, and married Lois Renk.  Wythe was instrumental in establishing the Monterey County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was its first president.

In 1977, he and Lois returned to her native state of Idaho to become part of the Sandpoint community. They were founding members of the Sandpoint Friends (Quaker) meeting, Pend Oreille Arts Council, Panhandle Environmental League, Farmers Market, and the Kinnikinnick Native Plants Society.  He was a member of Sandpoint Rotary and its Scholarship Committee, and was involved in community action against the Sandpoint bypass.

Wythe sang with the Monterey Peninsula Choral Society, the Carmel Bach Festival, and recently with the Pend Oreille Chorale.

Since meeting Goff and Wright, Joseph Henry Wythe devoted his life to the cause of organic architecture.  “Unicorn Farm,” the Wythe home near Sandpoint, has been widely published as an example of organic architecture, and he wrote four books on the subject.   His work was selected to be part of exhibitions titled “The Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright,” which toured Europe for several years.

He was preceded in death by wife Lois Renk Wythe, brother John Wythe, and sister Martha Mosac.  He is survived by sister Phyllis Karsten, son Joseph Henry Wythe, daughters Romi Elnagar and Luana Morris, nine grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held on Thur, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sandpoint Senior Center at 820 Main Street.  His ashes will be scattered at Unicorn Farm to mingle with those of his beloved wife Lois.