ERNEST ARTHUR (ART) SUNDBERG
April 13, 1922 - April 29, 2003
"Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day."
For a family contact address, email son Paul: pasundberg at (@) yahoo.com
Words of Remembrance by AGO fraternity brother
April 3, 2003
ERNEST ARTHUR SUNDBERG
1922 - 2003
Once again, we want to thank you for all your cards, letters, calls and prayers these past months following Mom’s death as Dad dealt with his own worsening health until, now, his own death this April 29, 2003 at 81 years of age. After his prostate cancer was diagnosed in 1989, it was in remission for 12 years following surgery until it reappeared in fall 2001.
Although he was hit emotionally by the loss of Marianne last August 9, 2002 (after nearly 48 years of marriage), Dad seemed on the mend last fall. He’d already had several months of chemotherapy for his prostate cancer, and his PSA level had begun to descend dramatically from a high of 74 to eventually the lower 20s, all very encouraging. He was also losing weight (not a bad thing when he was several tens of pounds over his ideal weight in any case). Then, this past December, he began having problems breathing, and the hospital had to remove a liter of liquid from his lungs. That was a clear sign that all was not as well as we had thought. And then his PSA level began inexorably to climb again.
When Paul visited during his Christmas Break the end of last year, Dad was noticeably much thinner and frailer. Mobility seemed even more difficult for him (he had been using a walker since his fall and broken hip in 2001), and getting him in and out of the car harder than usual. This January, Art arranged one final week stay up in Cambria, California, at the base of the Big Sur coastline, one his favorite places in the state and where we had rented a house as a family in January 2000. Paul, Ann, her husband Cam, and friend Linda Armstrong all joined him. He kept saying it would be his "last trip out of town," but we took this for a bit of melodrama at the time.
February 25, 2003, he and Ann met with Dr. Jahnke, his oncologist, who said he had about "six months" before he would be permanently bedridden. (She didn’t mention the "D-word".) Chemotherapy was no longer being effective, and she had no other treatments to offer. He was put on "comfort care" (what Dad termed a "watch-and-wait" program) to keep him as pain-free and functional as possible during his final months. We had been expecting a continued slow decline in his health, but having a time limit now was a bit of a shock emotionally, and so Paul decided to spend this summer in Santa Barbara again, this time to be with Dad. (He had spent six months with Mom in 2002.)
Knowing that he had only a few months at best when he would have the energy and mobility to do much, Dad and Ann spent February and March getting his affairs in order - bills, bank accounts, estate planning (as they had already been doing at a less intensive pace). As a career auditor for Aramco Oil Company, Dad was determined to leave a balanced book behind at the end of his life if at all possible! By the end of March, pretty much all the family business was in hand and he could relax.
By that time, more signs indicated that his health was giving out. May 17, Dad noticed blood in his urine bag before going to bed (he had had a catheter ever since his fall in Bermuda two years prior). The next morning, there was more, so he went to the emergency room, where his urologist flushed his kidneys twice. When his urine appeared clean, he was sent home. But then again on March 31, the bleeding returned for three days. The head nurse at the Samarkand Retirement Community was getting desperate to get him in to the urologist, but the man’s nurse kept saying she’d relay the message, not mentioning the doctor was actually out of town. Dad was finally taken back to the hospital, where he got three blood transfusions as he had gotten dangerously anemic. Paul and Ann, meanwhile, were ignorant of these developments. Ann and Cam had left earlier in the week to visit friends in Florida, so no family was around during his stay in the hospital. As soon as they found out, however, they called Paul, who requested that the deaconess at Dad’s Church visit him, and Ann and Cam flew back early.
Because of the late stage of his prostate cancer, the doctors decided not to perform any invasive procedure unless the bleeding continued. Eventually, by week’s end, his urine seemed close to normal, and Dad was sent to the Samarkand health center on April 7 for monitoring. Dad talked about maybe having to cancel his upcoming birthday celebration because of his health, but we insisted that it should go on, even at his bedside if necessary. Paul flew out from Illinois for Dad’s birthday the weekend of April 13. By this time, Dad weighed a scrawny 140 lbs. - down from 220 lbs. last August.
The 81st birthday party was a great success, largely due to Ann’s superb logistical talents. She reserved a special dining room at Samarkand, catered a filet mignon dinner, and we surprised him with very personalized presents: an appreciation plaque from AGO, his old evangelical fraternity at UCLA, and a photo portrait of Paul (improbably) holding a basketball. About 12 of Dad’s good friends - old and new - joined us, and Dad was so caught up in the festivities that he requested we all go back to the apartment ton continue the party after dinner instead of heading back to his room at the health center.
After the weekend was over, Paul flew back to Illinois. Cam called him the next weekend, however, to report that Dad’s health had declined noticeably following his birthday and that the nurses were thinking it might be a mater of "weeks, not months." Still in the final weeks of spring semester, Paul flew out April 24 after teaching his class and ended up postponing his April 28 return to stay on because Dad’s condition was now so critical. He was completely bedridden, barely strong enough to suck water through a straw and had be turned physically by nurses every two hours. Ann had been on bedside shift with him since April 7, and now she, Cam and Paul took shifts around the clock. April 28, Dad rallied remarkably, entertaining three or four visitors that evening and conversing fluently, if tiredly, but on Tuesday morning April 29, Ann noticed a speeding-up in his breathing and a telltale gurgle, and the nurses warned the end could be any time that day. Paul rushed over to the room around 10:30, and soon she and Cam were joined by Pastor Bussell and several other family friends. During the nearly 6 hours that Dad labored, fighting off death, Paul and Ann held his hands as Bible passages were read and hymns sung. After his doctor took his vital signs just before 4:00 pm, he finally stopped breathing. The nurses were all impressed at the round-the-clock family support and community presence at his deathbed - quite unusual, apparently, even at Samarkand’s health center.
The service of Thanksgiving for his life was held the following Saturday, May 3, at El Montecito Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara, the same as for Mom’s funeral, and the burial service with military honors and Taps (he was an army captain in WWII) was Monday morning, May 5, at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hollywood Hills (Los Angeles). Dad’s cousin Lois Johnson once again hosted everyone at a luncheon reception afterwards, and his only sister Helen White managed to attend with the help of her Mountain Nursing nurse Kathy, who drove her down from Crestline.
Dad’s premature passing caught both of us off guard - only two months into his "six months." Dad fortunately left his affairs in immaculate order, making Ann’s executor role much easier, but we are still processing the trauma of being with him in his last few weeks as he lost nearly all his energy and abilities, as well as during his final "labor pains," as his body delivered up his spirit to eternal life. He is celebrating a joyful reunion with Marianne and his parents at the moment, but we children must deal with the loss not only of him, but of both our parents in such a short time. Now the two of us "begin a new, and sadder, chapter in our lives," as we wrote [about Mom] last August. Ann is finally free to put her LA condo on the market and move to San Diego to live with husband Cameron nearly a year after their wedding last June 29, and Paul now won’t have to find someone to sublet his Illinois rental house this summer, freeing him to prepare fully for his dissertation experiment this Fall and to graduate next May, he hopes! As for Mom and Dad’s furniture and possessions, we children have paid the rent on their Samarkand apartment through the end of May to allow us time to sort, distribute and store things. After that, our family history in Santa Barbara will be at an end - though many new friends remain to visit there.
Please stay in touch! The Sundberg family is still around.
- Paul Sundberg and Ann Sundberg-Johnston
(Obituary from the SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS)
SUNDBERG, Ernest Arthur (Art)
Born April 13, 1922 in Los Angeles, son of high school math teacher Ernst A. Sundberg and Selma Karlson-Sundberg, who immigrated to California from Sweden in 1907, passed away at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 of prostate cancer not long after his 81st birthday. He is survived by his sister Helen Sundberg-White of Crestline, California; his son Paul of Urbana, Illinois; and his daughter Ann Sundberg-Johnston of San Diego. His wife of 47 years, Marianne Walvoord-Sundberg, predeceased him in August 2002.
Art obtained a BS in Chemistry from UCLA in 1943, served as a captain in WWII both in Europe and Asia (the Philippines and Korea) working as a water-quality engineer until 1946, when he returned to UCLA for an MBA, graduating in 1948. His entire working career was as an internal auditor with the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco) 1948-1972 and later as General Auditor 1972-77. He served the company in its US office in New York, and its European office in the Hague, Netherlands during the early 1950s, but the majority of time he served in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia until 1977, when he again was transferred to the Hague, his last post.
He married missionary nurse Marianne Walvoord in 1955 in the chapel of the Arabian Mission in Bahrain, and the couple had two children, Paul and Ann, while in Dhahran. Upon his retirement, the couple moved to Woodland Hills, California, where they lived until 1999, when they moved to Santa Barbara to become residents at the Samarkand Retirement Community.
A dedicated Christian, Art was one of the founding members of the Dhahran Protestant Fellowship in Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s, and was an active church member wherever he lived, teaching Bible studies, directing and singing in choirs. At UCLA he was a brother in the Evangelical Christian AGO fraternity, which he also volunteered for in retirement.
Other serious interests were stamp collecting (especially the Middle East and Islamic world) and collecting art and antiques from the Near and Far East. (His home was jokingly referred to by some as the "Art Museum"!) A life-long traveler, he managed to visit more than 50 countries during his 81 years, including hard to visit places such as Kashmir, Afghanistan, Burma and the Central Asian Republics during the Cold War. He was one of few Americans to visit the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Another life-long love was sports. He participating avidly in his younger life - basketball, volleyball, bowling - and, in later years, watched them religiously, especially his favorite teams: UCLA, the Lakers, Dodgers and Rams. He was also a respected bridge player, with an auditor’s killer memory for detail.
A dedicated father, Art saw his children through all stages of their lives, including funding Paul’s degree programs at Wheaton College and later Georgetown University, and providing generously for both children throughout their lives. He was especially proud to be present at his daughter Ann’s marriage to fellow Aramco Brat Cameron Johnston in Santa Barbara in 2002. A good auditor to the end, he left all his accounts neat and tidy and supervised his estate planning meticulously through his final weeks of life.
A service of thanksgiving for his life was held at El Montecito Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara, on Saturday, May 3 at 11:00 am. The interment service with military honors was on Monday, May 5 at 11:00 at Forest Lawn Cemetery - Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles.
- A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY -
1922 - Art is born in Los Angeles to Ernst and Selma Sundberg, devout Swedish-American Lutherans. His mother had immigrated to California from Sweden as a girl of 16 in 1907. His father teaches high school mathematics. He has an older sister, Helen.
1943 - Graduates from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. While at UCLA, he is a member of the Christian fraternity AGO. That fall, he enters the US army (Captain, 1506th Engineer Water Supply Company), where he serves in both Europe and Asia, lastly in Korea from the end of WWII until fall 1946, when he re-enters UCLA.
1948 - Graduates again from UCLA with an MBA and signs on for his career as an internal auditor with the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), beginning in Saudi Arabia, then New York, then in Holland.
1955 - Marries Marianne Walvoord, a Dutch-Reformed missionary nurse in Bahrain (Persian Gulf), just 20 miles from his workplace in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. They have two children: Paul (1957) and Ann (1960). Art and Marianne become pillars of the Dhahran Protestant Fellowship, which meets on the company compound; Art directs the church choir for 12 years and teaches adult Sunday School classes.
1977 - Requests a transfer to the Aramco European office in the Hague, Netherlands, where he and Marianne live until his retirement in 1983, after 35 years with Aramco.
1983 - Retires to Woodland Hills, California (LA area), where he and Marianne live 15 years, attending Bel Air Presbyterian Church.
1989 - Is first diagnosed with prostate cancer. After surgery, the cancer is in remission for 12 years.
1999 - They move to Santa Barbara as residents of the Samarkand Retirement Community, attending El Montecito Presbyterian Church and singing in the choir.
2001 - Falls and breaks his hip while in Bermuda, undergoes two operations. Marianne’s melanoma returns later that year, and she undergoes chemotherapy until her death, August 2002. Art’s PSA levels spike about the same time, meaning the return of the prostate cancer.
2003 - In February, he is given six months to live. After celebrating his 81st birthday April 13, his health prematurely suffers a rapid decline, and he passes from this life to the next in Smith Health Center at Samarkand.
updated 6 September 2006