One of Nolan High School’s most beloved teachers, Joe Kuban, died this morning in Arlington. He was 59.
Kuban had been battling amylotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, since 2007. His physical condition deteriorated quickly during the past year, said his brother Frank Kuban.
“Every time I’d see him there was some significant loss of function,” Frank said. “Toward the end he was unable to speak, talk, eat, hardly anything.”
As was typical throughout his battle, Joe Kuban kept his spirits high.
“He had a very positive and good attitude despite his unbelievable physical difficulties,” his brother said. “He was a scientist and he understood how nature works and so he saw how he and his situation fit in with the overall scheme.”
Joe Kuban’s ecology studies program, established in 1974 at Nolan, was the country’s first at the high school level. He took students on regular excursions to Big Bend, the Big Thicket, Port Aransas, and the Costa Rican rainforest.
“What I hope to do is make them more appreciative of nature,” he told Fort Worth Weekly in Feb. 2007. “You flat don’t know what we’re doing to nature if you don’t get out in it and understand its great beauty and great benefit to us. That’s the inherent value in the trips.”
The family will provide details about a public ceremony later today or this week.
A lifelong musician, Kuban was able to create his swan song, “Solitario,” before his illness robbed him of his ability to play guitar and sing. The album is available at agavemusic.com and proceeds from CD sales benefit the Big Bend Natural History Association.