Obituary: Donald L. Sundin
April 3, 1927 – November 26, 2020
On Thursday, November 26, 2020, Donald L. Sundin passed away at home in Steamboat Springs, CO at the age of 93. Don was born in Moline, IL on April 3, 1927 to Richard and Julia (Carlson) Sundin. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps after graduating high school in 1945, receiving an honorable discharge one year later. He then enrolled at Augustana College in Illinois, where he earned a degree in Business Administration. He married fellow student Marilyn Anderson in 1951, with whom he had three children. He always had a tremendous love of flying and so they bought a small airplane, and he worked his way quickly through the private and commercial pilot ratings. In 1957 the growing family moved from Chicago, IL to Granville, OH and founded Sundin Aviation Co., the FBO at the Newark-Heath Airport. In the 1960’s, along with two partners, he founded Traveling Aviation Seminars, flying around the country to teach three-day courses to prepare pilots for their written exams. In 1963 Don inaugurated AOPA’s “Pinch Hitter” course, designed for flying companions to safely land an airplane in the event of a pilot emergency. That course is still operating today! Following a divorce, he moved to Colorado where he spent the rest of his days with his life partner, Zsuzsi Starkloff. In January 1994, he and a business partner created Mountain Flight Service, the sole air ambulance provider covering northwestern Colorado. As the only pilot, he was on duty 24/7. He became much beloved and respected by the medical support staff with whom he worked. He was an avid reader and would spend hours at a time lost in the pages of a good book. Most of all, he loved spending time up at their mountain cabin near Hahns Peak. He relished the process of designing, building, and adding the finishing touches to their retreat, cherishing the time spent there with family and friends. He was a consummate teacher, often weaving his dry humor into the “lessons”. Among the many subjects covered with his kids and grandkids were flying, meteorology, snowmobiling, wielding chainsaws, building stone fireplace walls, cooking over an open fire, driving stick shift, and working with a myriad of tools. But his most important rule of all, never end a sentence with a preposition! A lesson for which we are all eternally grateful. Don is survived by son Lee (Renné) Sundin, daughters Laura Sundin and Dorothy (David) Tilley; grandchildren David, Brandon, and Kyle Tilley, Matthew Bracken, Olivia and Isaac Sundin, and DJ Anderson; former wife Marilyn Sundin; sister-in-law Rita Sundin; niece Lynda (Robert) Prendergast, and nephew Richard K. Sundin Jr. He was preceded in death by brother Richard K. Sundin and life partner Zsuzsi Starkloff. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Grand Junction VA Medical Center or the Steamboat Springs Library. Arrangements are in the care of Yampa Valley Funeral Home.
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