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John Edward Gundersen, 95, of Holladay, Utah, passed away peacefully in the comforts of his home, surrounded by family on January 9, 2024, after a year of home hospice recovering from a stroke. He was happily talking and singing with visitors and family right up to the day before passing.
John was born October 11, 1928 in his family home to father, Orson Wilford Gundersen Sr., and mother, Ingeborg Johanne Terjesen. He was the youngest of nine children. He was proceeded-in-death by his parents and his eight siblings: Edith, Orson, Tom, Dorothy, Joseph, Grant, David, and Mary. As the last surviving child, he was affectionately known as "Papa'' to all of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other dear relatives.
John met his eternal companion, Olga (Betty) Elizabeth Hartman, after seeing her playing violin at church, wearing a stunning red dress. He said to his sister-in-law (Effie), "Please get me a date with her for the Gold & Green Ball!" They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on September 5, 1952, by Legrand Richards.
His greatest accomplishment in life is his marriage of 71 years and their family of nine children, Edward (Diana) Gundersen, Olga (Lisa) Rosander, Sam (Carmi) Gundersen, Karl (Janet) Gundersen (both deceased), Karen (David) Luke, Julie (Rex) Weber, Erik (Elizabeth) Gundersen, Elizabeth Gundersen, and Christian (Brooke) Gundersen, 26 grandchildren, and 44 great-grandchildren. They welcomed countless cousins, foreign exchange students, Tibetan refugees, traveling Saints, and anyone who needed a “Papa” and “Mormor” in their lives.
An avid learner from youth to his final days, he graduated with a teaching degree from Utah State University in Industrial Education. Later, he was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force Officer through the Air Force ROTC. Stationed with his young family at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington he served as Base Motor Officer for two years. His proudest military moment was leading his motor pool drivers to wins in Air Force Driving and Maintenance competitions at the height of the Cold War.
John desired to raise his family "at home" in Holladay, Utah. There he built their family homestead and embarked on his teaching career at Highland High School in the Salt Lake City School District. Teaching for 30 years, he set the standard for automotive, drafting, and electronic excellence. He also taught collegiate level courses at Ford and Chrysler Motor regional service centers. He pursued and won Masters' level scholarships to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and continued his education more for teaching expertise and less for accreditation.
Hobbies and interests included family camping trips, restoring old and foreign cars, teaching useful fix-it skills, unique motorcycles, and particularly sailing small sailboats. He studied energy production passionately and believed that wind and solar energy were "free money!" He made wind generators, solar arrays, battery banks, and the like, but when he discovered small boat sailing he was hooked. One summer, he bought six sailboats and started taking everyone sailing. He quickly sold four of the boats, kept two for himself, and the family spent weekends sailing and camping (but never on Sunday).
John’s passion for science was only outmatched by his love of the Word of God through Prophets. He feasted upon their writings, like his father and siblings, and they discussed the Gospel passionately and with conviction while on job sites. A devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John served a 2 1/2 year mission to post World War II Norway at the age of 19, following the footsteps of his father and grandfather in the Norway mission field. He dove into the language and dialects with no formal schooling and mastered Norwegian like a native. He served as Branch President in many cities and boldly preached the Gospel with love and conviction, even going without purse or script to new areas and relishing his visits with his Norwegian mother's family. Years later, he and Betty served a couples mission in Tromso, Norway, far above the Arctic Circle. John was extremely proud that Betty learned the language beautifully with only three weeks of formal training.
Words are inadequate to express our eternal love for him and our gratitude for his impact and example in our lives. We are honored to celebrate his life, follow his example, and cherish his memory until our happy reunion.
Funeral services will be held Monday, January 15, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at the Valley View 9th Ward Chapel, 1925 E. Gundersen Lane, Holladay, Utah 84124. If you are unable to attend in person, use this link to stream the service live, https://zoom.us/j/96801701046 Friends and family will gather for a viewing prior to the services from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Interment will be held at 12:30 p.m. at the Elysian Burial Gardens, 1075 East 4580 South, Millcreek, Utah 84117.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints Perpetual Education Fund https://donate.churchofjesuschrist.org/contribute/church.
We want to express gratitude for the loving people from Inspiration Hospice, Heather, David, Hailey, Alec, Laura, and Noelle. You are Angels!