Obituary, James Eric Sundberg, 56

James Eric Sundberg, 56, died at home May 18, 2013

in Manson, Washington, after a yearlong battle with mesothelioma, a rare, incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

He was born January 18, 1957 in Juneau, Alaska. His parents were Odd B. and Mary J. Sundberg. He graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1975. Summers during his high school years he worked at his Uncle Harry’s fish cannery in Wrangell, Alaska. In 1977, Jim was accepted into the Alaska Carpenter’s Union 2247 Apprenticeship Program and achieved Journeyman status in 1983. During his carpentry career Jim remodeled dozens of commercial buildings in Juneau’s downtown historic district, as well as worked on remodels of many government buildings. Early in his career he also crewed as a deckhand commercial fishing for halibut and king crab.

In 1986 Jim married Cindy Jean Barkley, and in 1996 their daughter Jensina Larue was born. In 2005, the family relocated to Manson, Washington where Jim co-owned Local Myth Pizza in Chelan. He subsequently dropped his ownership role but continued on as a worker and remodeler. He joined the Manson Kiwanis Club and was an active volunteer on community projects. 

In May 2012, Jim was diagnosed with mesothelioma, most likely due to his career remodeling old buildings.  Over the next year, Jim endured multiple chemotherapies, surgery and a clinical trial in an attempt to extend his life, but medical efforts were unsuccessful against the disease.

He is survived by his wife Cindy Sundberg and daughter Jenny in Manson, mother Mary Moore and brother Van Sundberg (Tracey Miller) in Juneau, and sister Nomi Sundberg (Tom Traibush) and nephews Dan and Alex Westcott in Bellingham, and uncle Harry Sundberg (Rose) in Wrangell. He was preceded in death by his father Odd.

Jim will be remembered for his deep relationships; strong convictions; insatiable curiosity; courage; determination to overcome obstacles and solve problems; and for the love and respect he earned from those whose lives he touched. He was a devoted husband and father. He had a great sense of humor. He was famously frugal but not parsimonious- he made a game of thrift. Within the carpentry profession, he was respected by his peers as a perfectionist, competent in all aspects of his trade. Jim relished his Stikine River hunting and Wrangell fishing adventures and was the guy every outdoorsman wants to have along, especially in an emergency.  He had great respect for the knowledge and wisdom of elders. Jim realized nothing is more important than family, friends and love, and spoke of this often as his health declined.  Some of his last words were what a lucky man he was in his family and friendships.

A memorial service was held May 26th at the Manson Methodist Church. A celebration of Jim’s life will be scheduled for a later date in Juneau. In lieu of flowers, Jim suggested that donations be made to the Meso Foundation ( or by mail to The Meso Foundation, 1317 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314. Alternately, donations could be made to the Manson Kiwanis Club at PO Box 827 Manson, WA 99801.


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