Vern, age 87, died of natural causes and is now in the presence of the Lord. He was proud to be a Montanan and an Anaconda boy. Oldest son of Percy O. and Aili (Keto) Sundberg, he was born and raised in Anaconda, Mont., with two sisters and a brother. In 1947 he graduated from Anaconda High. Growing up on a 12-acre farm fostered an interest in plants and animals leading him to pursue a career in conservation and agronomy. He completed his bachelor’s in Aug. 1951, in Horticulture and Botany at Montana State College, now MSU.
It is in college that he met a Bozeman lady, the love of his life, Phyllis Todd. They were married Dec. 22, 1950, at the First Methodist Church, Bozeman, Mont. Together they raised three daughters and two sons.
Vern dedicated 34 ½ years with the USDA, Soil Conservation Service. He began at the Bitterroot Conservation District, Hamilton, Mont. In 1955 he became the first District Conservationist for the new Stillwater Conservation District, Columbus, Mont. Then he transferred to be an Agronomist (1966–84) at the Plant Materials Center, Bridger, Mont.
Vern valued hard work and community involvement. He was known for his rather lively political discussions. In Bridger, he served four years each on the Carbon County Conservation District Board of Supervisors, Bridger Town Council, and Bridger Rodeo Commission. He was part of the Beartooth Resource and Development Council, too. He volunteered to help erect the World War I Doughboy statue in Bridger’s park and to make it possible to open a new furniture factory. Vern and Phyllis were members of many other organizations: Wildlife Federation, Montana Wilderness Association, Audubon, Montana Environmental Information Center, Rimrock Harness Club, Yellowstone Corral of the Westerners, and numerous historical societies. They were a long time member of St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus.
Family activities included Jeep rides to go camping, fishing, and boating, church groups, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, riding horses, and sleigh rides. Hunting in the Beartooth and Pintler Mountains was a favorite leisure time activity along with exploring pictographs, and collecting geodes and rocks.
Vern has left us now to join his wife Phyllis of 54 years, father Percy, mother Aili, brother Carl. He’s survived by five children: Vona Sundberg, Kalispell, Mont., Debbie Sundberg, Billings, Mont., Dorcas “Cassie” Sundberg Murphy (Blaine), Sheridan, Wyo., Lance Sundberg (Patty), Columbus, Mont., and Randy Sundberg (Cindy), Kalispell, Mont.; seven grandchildren: Andrea (Shane), Nathaniel, Christopher (Kelsie), Steven (Jessica), Riley (Lauren), Brittany and Brady (Hannah); six great grandchildren: Benjamin, William, Archer, Carter, Cason and Paxlee; two sisters: Elva Blaz, Anaconda and Leola Hollinder, Missoula; Aunt Alice Martin (Ben), Glasgow; companion and friend Loraine Schroeder; Auburn, Wash.; numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and many friends.
The family would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Dr. David Kane, the staff at Meadowlark Assisted Living and RiverStone Hospice in Columbus for their loving care of Vernon.
Vernon’s memorial celebration was held Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, at St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus. Internment of cremains will take place at a later date at Sunset Hills Cemetery, Bozeman.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating: Carbon County Historical Society, Red Lodge, MT; Special K Ranch and St. James Lutheran Church, Columbus; Montana Wilderness Association.