Obituary: Willard A. Sunstrom

Willard Axel Sunstrom age 94 of Sister Bay passed away Wednesday, November 4, 2015.

He was born November 12, 1920 in Liberty Grove to Raymond Sunstrom and Alice Jacobsen Sunstrom who operated a farm just east of Sister Bay. He was the second oldest of six siblings. While growing up he attended Appleport School and Gibraltar High and worked with his family on the farm. Milking cows by hand and working in the fields was part of his everyday life.

His first full time job was at Ellison Bay Orchards (where Woodrow Engineering is located today) for a wage of ten cents per hour. In 1939 he became employed by Clarence Hedeen working as a carpenter. Carpentry work was seasonal in those days in Door County and when work became slow Willard took a team of horses across the ice to Chambers Island and worked with others from the area logging the island. His job was skidding logs to the north shore for a local lumber company.

In 1942 Willard joined the United States Coast Guard making many trips overseas while serving in convoy duty. After returning from Coast Guard duty he restarted his career as a carpenter working with his brother-in-law Alvin Hedeen. In 1984 when Alvin retired Willard continued as a general contractor until 1995 when he and Bernice gave the Shady Rest Motel all of their attention.

January 21, 1950 Willard married Miss Bernice Peterson at the Mayfair Church in Chicago, Illinois, and have been married 65 years. Together they lived in Sister Bay where they shared a love of landscaping, gardening, family, and operating the Shady Rest Motel.

Willard and Bernice enjoyed wintering in Arizona for eighteen years and have been residing at Scandia Village in Sister Bay since 2009.

Willard will be missed by his wife, Bernice; son, Gene (Karen) Sunstrom, son, Gregory (Susan), 4 grandchildren, 5 1/2 great-grandchildren and many other family and friends.

Willard was preceded in death by sisters; Olive Koyen, Betty Hedeen, Shirley Maltby and brother-in-law and sister-in-law Earlen and Verda Seiler.

A special thanks to Willard’s “family” at Scandia Village for the love and care they gave him.

A memorial service with military honors will be held at the Gathering Room at Scandia Village on Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 10:30 A.M. Visitation will be in the Gathering Room from 10:00 A.M. until the time of service. There will be a luncheon after the service.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to the Sister Bay Moravian Church, 10924 Old Stage Rd., Sister Bay, WI 54234 or Good Samaritan Society – Scandia Village, 10560 Applewood Rd., Sister Bay, WI 54234.

Willard was not known to be verbal; he expressed himself by the simple eloquence of his example.

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