Paul Sundin loved the north woods and the people who lived there. Born the oldest of seven children to Art and Amy Sundin in the family’s farmhouse in Lake Lillian, MN, Paul’s early life was filled with lots of family love, if not material possessions.
Paul joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and spent the next three years as a Gunner’s Mate, 2nd Class, on a minesweeper in the Philippines. After he returned home, he attended the University of Minnesota to study forestry. It was there that he met his lifelong friend, Donnie Ingram, of Grand Marais, MN. During summers while at college, Paul and Donnie worked with other forestry students at a CCC camp on the Gunflint Trail, just outside of Grand Marais, near the Canadian border. On weekend trips into town, Paul met Lois Pederson, whose family owned the East Bay Hotel in town. They corresponded during the winters and dated during the summers while Paul was working there. Paul played softball (second baseman) with the local Grand Marais team, and would later tell stories of having to hurry back to cross the Canadian border when the team played in Thunder Bay, Ontario, because the border crossing guard went home at 6 pm on Sunday night.
After college, Paul received an offer of employment with International Paper Company, with the position being in Nacogdoches, in East Texas. It was there that he met Mildred Carleton, a medical laboratory technician. They fell in love, married and started a family. Paul advanced quickly in his job, and was often transferred to new towns with new responsibilities. In each town where he lived, Paul assumed positions of civic leadership. He headed the Building Committee for the new Methodist church in Alto, TX. He led the Lion’s club and was on the School Board in Woodville, TX. He volunteered with Boy Scouts in Texas and Arkansas, teaching outdoor skills at summer camps.
Paul and Mildred had three children, Jeffrey Paul, David William and Amy Karol.
Two anecdotes illustrate Paul’s character: In 1953, Paul’s first son, Jeff, was born with severe physical and mental disabilities. In the small, rural Texas town where the family lived, there was no support system for families with children with such special needs, so these children were often institutionalized. When a friend asked Paul what he planned to do with Jeff, Paul didn’t blink an eye: “What do you mean what are we going to do?’, he replied. “We’re going to take Jeff home and take care of him”. To Paul, there was no question as to the right thing to do; he would shoulder his responsibility. Jeff lived for 18 years, cared for by Paul and Mildred at home.
In 1974, Paul was transferred to the northern Louisiana town of Springhill. Soon after the move, Mildred and their second son, David, stopped at a local gas station to fill up the family car. The owner of the gas station came to the car and asked Mildred to tell her husband that if he would direct International Paper Company trucks to that station for their gas, then the Sundin family wouldn’t ever have to pay for their personal gas use. When Mildred told Paul of this at dinner that evening, Paul put down his fork and instructed Mildred and David never to visit that gas station again. Again, there was no question in his mind of the right thing to do. Life lessons were taught to his children in the best way possible, by his example.
Paul enjoyed hunting and fishing all of his life. He took his family camping and shared his love of the outdoors. He enjoyed fishing in local lakes in Texas and Arkansas, in the Gulf of Mexico and in Canada. He attended a million band concerts, Little League games and dance recitals. He delighted in being with his grandchildren, and they remember long walks in the woods with him and activities such as leaving out “reindeer feed” for Santa’s sleigh crew in his yard on Christmas Eve.
Paul spent his entire career at International Paper Company and retired in 1985 at the age of 60. After retirement, he and Mildred traveled extensively and enjoyed square dancing and gardening. Paul took up stained glass work and other hobbies, and became quite accomplished in them.
In 2002, Mildred passed away after a brief illness. A year later, Paul visited his old friend Donnie Ingram in Grand Marais, and reencountered Lois Pederson, who was recently widowed. Paul and Lois rekindled their relationship and were married the following year. After two years of moving seasonally between Minnesota and Texas, Paul and Lois settled in Grand Marais, where he quickly integrated himself into the community. They enjoyed traveling and socializing with their many friends in the area.
Paul Sundin was predeceased by his parents Art and Amy Sundin, by his siblings Gordon, Jim, and Jewelle, by his first wife Mildred and his second wife Lois. Paul is survived by his sisters Betty and Shirley, and his brother Denny. His son David lives in Tyler, TX, with his wife Rosi and two daughters, Victoria and Veronica. Paul’s daughter, Amy Nichols, lives in Houston with her significant other, Darrell Hearn, and two daughters, Allison and Brooke Nichols.
Paul was loved and respected by countless friends and relatives. He was an avid reader and was known for his intelligence, his quick, dry wit, his willingness to mentor and help others, and his ease in making friends.
Paul’s family will hold a Celebration of Life ceremony at a future date to be announced. They request memorial gifts be sent to First Congregational Church of Christ in Grand Marais, MN (http://grandmaraisucc.org) or the charity of your choice.
Paul’s family would like to thank his many friends who have helped him maintain a sense of community, even as his mobility has decreased in the past two years. They would like to thank the doctors and staff at Cook County Medical Center, and especially Becky Stoner of Hillhaven Assisted Living Center in Grand Marais.
Paul Sundin was a kind, honest, loving, intelligent man. Wherever he lived and whomever he knew was better for having touched him.