Peter Junger, led Buddhist Temple, studied and taught computer law

by Diane Suchetka, Plain Dealer Reporter, November 24, 2006

Cleveland, OH (USA) -- Peter Junger, president and religious chairman of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple and professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law, died at his Cleveland home last week.

Junger, 73, was a computer law expert who sued the U.S. government in 1996, claiming his free-speech rights were denied because a federal law forbid him from teaching a computer encryption program to students from Canada or publishing it in a textbook.

The case was eventually settled. But Junger never stopped studying or teaching computer law and dozens of other subjects.

"He read a lot," said fellow law professor Wilbur Leatherberry. "He was a voracious reader and an eclectic reader. He could consume all of your time.

"Still, it was difficult to resist when he came into your office, because he always had something interesting to say. And very often, he could help."

Just before he died, Junger completed an article on the patentability of computer software, Leatherberry said. Colleagues hope to get it published for Junger posthumously.

Junger was born in 1933, grew up in Wy oming and graduated from Harvard University in 1955 and Har vard Law School in 1958. He worked in real estate law in New York City from 1961 until 1970, when he began teaching at Case.

He retired from Case in 2001 and worked as a visiting professor at the Whittier Law School in California the following academic year. He returned to Cleveland after that.

Over the years, he wrote articles, chapters and books on topics from the Pentagon Papers to Buddhism and human rights.

He was named president of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple in 2003.

He had told others he had the flu recently and was found dead in his apartment last week, apparently having died Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friends remember him roasting his own coffee beans and bringing them to pancake breakfasts at the temple. They also remember his gourmet cooking, love of good wine and never-ending generosity.

"He would donate things without saying why," said Craig Horton, resident coordinator and minister assistant at the Cleveland Buddhist Temple, which Junger began attending about 18 years ago.

As religious chairman, Junger coordinated services at the temple. As president, he oversaw board meetings. And he always made a point of opening the building at Euclid Avenue and East 214th Street to others.

"He was very welcoming," said Dean Williams, a Zen priest from another Buddhist group who used the Cleveland Buddhist Temple for weekly meditation and weekend retreats.

"He was just this wonderful blending of that legalistic aspect but was not so wrapped up in it that it prevented him from being openly compassionate."

He loved the historic temple - founded after World War II by Japanese-American internees - and its teachings.

"The dharma, the truth or Buddha nature, he was very serious about," Horton said, "and he wanted it to be spread throughout the community."

Services will be announced later. Junger is survived by his 105-year-old mother, Genevieve, of California. He was with her on her 100th and 105th birthdays.

Plain Dealer news researcher Jo Ellen Corrigan contributed to this story.