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Bruce A. Romalia
Bruce A. Romalia, 92, of the SunBird Community in Chandler, Ariz., passed away on Feb. 15, 2023.
Bruce enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 and was selected for special assignment for Air Force One for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961-1967. Bruce served in the Vietnam War from 1967-1968 and was awarded the Bronze Star and several meritorious service awards. Bruce retired from the Air Force in 1982 with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant.
Bruce is survived by his son, Mark, his daughter, Terri, and five grandchildren. He was also a loving stepfather to Jon, Paula, and Mearl. Bruce was an active member of the SunBird community, was a member of the Bandits Golf League, and truly enjoyed his Wii bowling participation at the Horizon room.
Bruce was fondly known as ‘Grandad’ to his five grandchildren, was their greatest fan, and so loved the visits and calls from them. He ended every phone conversation with his son and daughter, “Give the kids a hug and kiss from Grandad.”
Bruce’s family will have a small service on Thursday, April 13, at 10 a.m. The service will be held at Valley of the Sun Mortuary and Cemetery. There will be a reception at the SunBird ballroom immediately following the service.
Gary Lee Burns
Gary Lee Burns was born on Dec. 22, 1939, in Omaha, Neb., to Charles and Helen (Wallick) Burns. He passed away after a short illness on Oct. 19, 2022, in Chandler, Ariz.
He moved with his family to Red Oak, Iowa, in 1945 and graduated from high school with the class of 1957. On Dec. 28, 1958, he was united in marriage to Kathryn Marie Freed at Fremont Lutheran Church, Nyman, Iowa.
He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree and was a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. He and Kathy moved to Pocahontas, Iowa, after graduation where he was a coach and teacher for four years. In 1965 he left the teaching profession and formed a partnership with Jim Fitzgerald that became Burns Fitzgerald Realtors. He was on the Pocahontas Community Hospital board that built the present hospital in 1967 and was instrumental in forming a group of investors to build the present day Pocahontas Manor Care Center in 1970. Later he became the sole owner of that facility until he sold it in 2012.
In 1985 they moved to Mesa, Ariz. He was a past member of Mesa Country Club, Iron Oaks of Sun Lakes, and current member of King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe, Ariz. He and Kathy moved to Sun Lakes, Ariz., in 2010 where he enjoyed golf until his health declined. For the last nine months they had lived at Robson Reserve where he established many new friendships and his love of playing bridge.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Kathy, and four children: Debra (Ted) Shimon of Peoria, Ariz., Jeffrey (Lisa) Burns of Chandler, Ariz., Denise (Mike) Ziegler of Sedalia, Colo., and Barry (Kate) Burns of Chandler, Ariz. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren: Christine (Weston) Bingham, Nick (Tate) Shimon, and Tim Shimon; Kelsey, Jack, and Marley Burns; Sullivan Ziegler, Eli (Aubri) Ziegler, and Macy Ziegler; and Elliot and Zane Burns; as well as great-grandchildren Myla, Brant, Emery, and Mabel Bingham; Lane Jones; and Ollie Joy Shimon.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Roger Burns, and his sister-in-law Charlene.
His love of people, college football, Iowa State University, Kansas City Chiefs, and family will never be forgotten. His greatest legacy was having never known a stranger.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to American Heart Association or your favorite charity.
Memorial services will be held on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. at Valley of the Sun Mortuary, 10940 East Chandler Heights Road, Chandler, AZ 85248.
Nancy Lee Erickson Smith
Nancy Lee Erickson Smith was born March 15, 1936, in Hibbing, Minn., to Ralph Leif Erickson and Louise Hadley Erickson. The Erickson family then moved to Magna, Utah, where Leif went to work for the Kennecott Copper Company. Nancy attended the University of Hawaii for a year, and then returned to the mainland and enrolled at the University of Utah.
At the U, she met Bob Smith. They were married June 27, 1959, in Salt Lake City. David was born in 1961 and they moved to the new city of Northglenn, Colo., in 1965. Michael was born in 1969.
She held various part-time jobs to be home when the boys got home from school. Along the way she was the choir director at Valley Heights Christian Church, then Northglenn Christian Church, Ghost Town Club of Colorado president and resident artist. At the age of 62 she went back to college and graduated from Metropolitan State College in Denver with a double major, in music and art, graduating with honors.
They moved to Chandler in 1997, where she joined the choir, then led the choir and organized the library. She has more than 35 originally licensed songs with the Office of Copyright in Washington, D.C. She learned to play the harp at 82.
As Bob’s Alzheimer’s progressed, they moved to the Gardens at Ocotillo. Bob passed on April 16, 2022, and she handled it like everything else … with dignity and grace. With Bob in a better place, her health began to decline rapidly, and 4½ months later, on Sept. 2, 2022, she quietly walked into the arms of Jesus.
The family would like to express its thanks to everyone who loved on Bob and Nancy—to their Sun Bird friends, to the Sun Lakes Community Church, the choirs, to pastor Mitch, to Lois, Lyn and Larry, and especially to Aegis Hospice, who helped us through the loss of Bob and Nancy within 4½ months.
They are survived by David and Coleen (Mathew, Katie), great-grandson Levi; Michael and Nicole (Tyler, Michaela), great-granddaughter Lily; step-grands Meghan Stewart (Kevin), McKinley; Morgan Heinzroth (Sylar), Hallie; sister Barbara Bowman (Phil); and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held at Sun Lakes Community Church at 10:30 a.m. on April 15. Her sons, David and Michael, invite any friends and acquaintances from SunBird and Sun Lakes to attend.
Memorials may be made to Aegis Hospice, a library of your choice, or Wasatch Academy.
On Sunday morning, Sept. 18, 2022, we learned our Dad, Roger Rempert, had “Flown West” to rejoin our Mom, Sandy Rempert.
He was staying with a friend near his home in beautiful SunBird, Arizona while recuperating from a hip replacement surgery and slipped away in his sleep. He did not appear to be in any pain, but he was tired.
I spoke with him a few days earlier, and he told me, “I think I’m going to sell my hangar, there’s nothing in it except a boat I want to sell.” I think this was a very symbolic statement; his wings were clipped, his spirit was used up, he had nothing left to work on. I think he was ready to go…
Dad was excited to have his hip replaced so he could walk again without pain and be able to “make it back to Oshkosh next year.” His surgery had been scheduled to coincide with the Oshkosh fly in this year but was postponed due to potential complications. While the surgery appears to have been a success, it apparently took a toll on his system that was overwhelming.
There are many things that come to mind when we think of Roger, but his love of his family, his love of flying, and his love of boating are things that stand out the most. It was hard to talk to Roger without aviation coming up in some way, it was truly ingrained in his soul; he was a natural pilot, and he loved aviation as much as anyone I’ve ever met. It was truly part of his identity, and who he was. He never lost his touch, it just seemed to be in his blood.
It was also common to hear him praising his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was always quick to brag about how proud of us all he was, how he loved us, and how we were “The Best” at whatever endeavor or challenge we were taking on at the time. He often expressed how grateful he was to be blessed with such an amazing family. More than anything he wanted us to be successful and happy.
Roger’s love of boating stretched throughout his lifetime, literally. Of all the toys, machines, projects, properties, and miscellaneous interests he had throughout the years, his final project was a boat. He loved boating as much as flying in my opinion; so much so, he insisted on bringing a boat with him to the desert!
Roger is survived by his four children: Chris Duba, Randy Rempert, Vickie Andre, and Erich Rempert, along with 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Roger loved Arizona and he loved SunBird, along with the many friends he and Sandy had made there throughout the years.
Here in Southeast Wisconsin Sunday was forecast to be a cool, rainy day, but unexpectedly it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful summer day. I can’t help but believe this was my Dad telling us, “It’s OK! I’m free! I’ve made it to Heaven! Don’t be sad, I’m not gone, I’ve just gone Home to be with old friends!”
This evening, please watch the sun set as Roger loved doing, and raise a glass to wish him farewell, for he has slipped the bonds of Earth’s grasp and headed West; not alone into the sunset, but home to be with old friends again…
Robert (Bob) Clark
Robert (Bob) Clark, age 93, passed away peacefully on Aug. 16, 2022, at his home in SunBird.
Bob was born in Bisbee, Ariz., on Oct. 3, 1928. He was the son of Samuel and Mary Clark. He also had one brother, Sam. All preceded him in death.
After high school graduation in Bisbee, Bob joined the Army. Upon returning from service, he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. He married a hometown Bisbee girl who passed after 40 years of marriage. They enjoyed their three sons.
Upon graduation from the University of Arizona, he was hired by IBM where he was employed for 30 years. He was transferred many times and also travelled weekly for his work.
When Bob retired, he enjoyed golfing, reading, fishing, dancing, and spending time with his friends.
Bob and his wife Shirley moved to SunBird in 1996 where he was active with the HOA and very happy.
The family would like to thank all for the prayers and condolences, it means so much.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, Oct. 10 in the SunBird Ballroom at 11 a.m.
John “Jack” Joseph Dolezal
John “Jack” Joseph Dolezal, 80, born in Racine, Wis., passed away on July 28, 2022, at his home. Private services with Military Honors will be held. For a full obituary, please see the Strouf Funeral Home website: www.strouf.com.
Frederic Leigh Pilon, 86, died July 26, 2022, at home in SunBird. He is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Mary.
Major Pilon retired from the Washington State Patrol in June 1993, after 35 years of dedicated service.
Fred and Mary moved to SunBird in October 1994. Fred was active in Men’s Club, Irish Club, the NW annual gathering, and Neighbors Who Care.
Sometimes known as “Santa,” he presided over parties, club meetings, parades, Albertson’s, and the SunBird Clubhouse! This was one of the biggest joys in his life, and he talked about it with great fondness in his final days.
Fred will be missed for his unique sense of humor, generous spirit, and his willingness to step up and help with whatever he could.
In addition to Mary, Fred is survived by his son Lee Pilon (Megan), daughter Laurie Pilon (Dan), and Mary’s daughter Sue Moses (John) and son Bob Otstot (Twila). Fred also has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held with family and close friends at a future date, to be held in Washington.
Many thanks to Savior Hospice, Santé Rehab, and Select Home Care for their support.
Alda Mae Frey
Alda Mae Tanking Frey, 85, of Chandler, Ariz., died peacefully on Monday, June 13, 2022, at her home in the SunBird Retirement Community.
Alda was born on April 15, 1937, the daughter of Alfred and Catherine Runnebaum Tanking. Alda grew up east of Seneca on the Tanking Homestead and graduated from Saints Peter and Paul High School in 1955. After high school, Alda moved to Topeka and was employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company for five years.
Alda married Fred William Frey of Bern on April 15, 1961. They made their home on a farm east of Dubois, Neb. She enjoyed homemaking, attending her children’s sporting events, playing cards, dancing, the color purple, and spending quiet time in prayer. In 2005, Fred and Alda purchased a winter home in SunBird. Alda has called this beautiful oasis in the desert her home ever since. She enjoyed meeting friends from all over the country and enjoyed the Arizona sunshine.
Alda had a personal relationship with her Heavenly Father. She was baptized into the Catholic faith in 1937. She worshipped at Saints Peter and Paul in Seneca and St. Stevens in Sun Lake, Arizona. Alda spent many hours a day in quiet time praying for our world and her family.
Alda is survived by her sons Howard Frey of DuBois, Neb., and Roy (Shari) Frey of Sabetha, Kan.; daughter, Cindy (Russ) Wilfert of Mesa, Ariz.; five grandchildren, Jacqueline (Josh) Myers of Des Moines, Iowa, Jacob Frey of Lawrence, Kan., Broderick (Haley) Frey of Manhattan, Kan., Jenna (Quaid) Vuncannon of Gilbert, Ariz., and Caden Wilfert of Goodyear, Ariz.; one great-grandson, Wiliam Myers; one brother, Elmer Tanking of Tonganoxie; two sisters, Eileen Meyer of Sabetha and Jerri Ann Matzke of Silver Lake; and many other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by Fred as well as siblings Johnny Tanking, Regis Tanking, and Jerry Tanking.
A Celebration of Alda’s life will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, June 24, 2022, at the SunBird Community Room. Friends may gather for a rosary at 10:30 a.m. Grandchildren will be sharing memories, which will be sure to entertain us all. “Kare Bears” of the SunBird community will provide refreshments.
On Friday, July 8, there will be a 9:30 a.m. rosary and 10 a.m. mass at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic church in Seneca, Kan. Burial will be immediately following.
Memorial Contributions can be made to neighborswhocare.com/donate.
Online messages of condolence can be left at Valley of the Sun Mortuary or www.dignitymemorial.com.
Jerome (Jerry) Thomas Nunamaker
Jerry was born July 10, 1936, in Conrad, Mont. He was one of six siblings who later migrated to Bellingham, Wash. He attended Western Washington University where he studied Civil Engineering and met his wife and traveling partner of 59 years of marriage until her passing in June of 2020.
He is preceded in death by his wife Janet Copley Nunamaker, his father Joseph Palmer Nunamaker, and his mother Sylvia Ann (Pauli) Nunamaker of Bellingham, Wash.; brothers: Joseph and Kenneth Nunamaker; sisters: Marjorie (Nunamaker) Ellis-Miller and Jeanne (Nunamaker) Baglio; and brother-in-law Robert Wilson Hatfield. Not to forget his influential uncles: Clint Nunamaker, Everett Nunamaker, and Senator Homer Nunamaker.
He is survived in death by his identical twin brother James Clarence Nunamaker (Linda), his son Kevin Nunamaker (Deborah) and daughter Kara Nunamaker Knaebel (Paul), grandchildren: Tyler and Kassie Knaebel, brother in-law Dr. John Brian Copley and sister-in-law Barbara Copley Hatfield, numerous cousins, many loving relatives, and friends and neighbors in Bellingham, Marysville, Belfair, Wash., and Chandler, Ariz.
Jerry served as Load Master in the U.S. Air Force; 17th Aerial Port Squadron, Paine Field, Wash., from 1958 to 1964. He then served the state of Washington working for the Department of Transportation as a Civil Engineer for 30 years out of the Marysville/Everett offices. Following retirement, he consulted on various highway projects. He then decided to become a snowbird in 1993 and moved to the SunBird community in Chandler, Ariz., where he and his wife continued to spend their winters for 21 years.
His favorite places to relax were to spend his winters at his home in Chandler, Ariz., and his summers at his little cedar beach home on Hood Canal, Wash., where he passed peacefully on June 10, 2022, after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
His favorite activities were golfing, fishing, spending time with his grandchildren, gardening, and traveling around the world.
Our family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Providence Hospice, especially nurse Paul and assistants Jackie and Amanda. Our family would also like to thank our dear numerous relatives, friends, and neighbors for their support.
A celebration of life will be held on Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. at “the place he would most rather be,” his home on the Canal.
Ned Delk, age 81, passed away on May 21, 2022, after a long illness. He spent the last year in a private care home.
Ned and Carol came down to SunBird from Lindstrom, Minn., and purchased their home in 2013 as snowbirds. In 2017 they moved here full time. Ned retired after 37 years in hospitality hotel management.
He enjoyed golf and billiards with friends. His love of music called him to sing with the Community Church Choir and the SunBird Concert Choir.
He is survived by his wife Carol; son Kevin (Maria); daughters Sherry (Mark) Borseth, Jody (Stan) Root, and Kerry (Sean) Drury; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
A private memorial will be held in Minnesota.
Melvin (Mel) Duane Flinkman
Melvin (Mel) Duane Flinkman passed away suddenly on Friday, April 8, 2022. He was 88 years old. Born Dec. 21, 1933, to Eino W. Flinkman and Elsie D. (Carlson) in Enumclaw, Wash., where he spent most of his life before moving to Chandler, Ariz. Graduating from Enumclaw High School in 1952, he went on to attend Washington State University.
He married and had three children, Curtis, Melvin Jr., and Kathryn. After his divorce while working for Metropolitan Life in Seattle he met Marilou Hoyt. They married on March 22, 1969, adding five more children to his family to bring the total to seven. He always said he loved Marilou and if she came with kids that was great. Growing up, the kids remember camping trips and hiking as their favorite summer vacations. While Marilou cooked for the pack, Mel led them on their adventures.
Moving back to Enumclaw shortly after he and Marilou were married, he started a very successful State Farm Insurance business. Known for his kindness and care for his clients, Mel usually arrived at the scene of an accident or situation because “They need to see me and know it’s going to be okay.” Retiring in 1997, he and Marilou traveled the world visiting every continent except Antarctica. They sailed the Amazon, the Nile, the Rhine, and the Yangtze rivers. They visited Russia, China, Australia, Brazil, and Africa. As they got older they explored the United States and loved cruising. They started visiting Sunbird Retirement Community in Chandler, Ariz., for short one-month visits, which turned into three months then five. That’s when they bought their first small home there. Finally in 2003 they decided to sell their Enumclaw home where their kids and grandkids grew up and moved full-time to Sunbird.
Mel was an avid sportsman. He loved skiing—teaching most of his kids to ski, tennis—his kids and grandkids still talk about how he taught them to play and always beat them, golf—with eight holes-in-one, and fishing. Their annual fishing trip to Alaska to visit son Les and daughter-in-law Laura started in the 1980s and continued well into the 2010s.
Four years after Marilou passed away Mel met Charlotte Donaldson in November 2016 after a “matchmaking” friend invited them both to dinner. They went to the New Year’s Eve dance together and the rest was history. They both loved to dance, and Charlotte says he was a great dancer! They traveled and took cruises together and on Feb. 7, 2017, they pledged their commitment to each other exchanging rings. Mel’s kids loved that she appreciated his sense of humor and how much they laughed together. Charlotte’s kids loved how he treated their mom.
Mel was preceded in death by wife Marilou Hoyt Flinkman, parents Eino and Elsie Flinkman, brother William Flinkman, son Curtis, daughter Elizabeth Cronk Bulter, son Kenneth Cronk, son-in-law Tim McManus.
Mel leaves behind five children—Kathy Flinkman, Les Cronk and wife Laura, Laura McManus, Mel Flinkman Jr., and Wayne Johnson and wife Deanna. He was Papa to 11 grandkids and 12 great-grandkids.
A service will be held late summer in Enumclaw, Wash., and at Sunbird Retirement Community in the fall when all his snowbird friends return for the winter.
It was Mel’s wish that in lieu of flowers that donations be given to Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank, 1368 N. Arizona Ave., Suite 412, Chandler, AZ 85225, 480-857-2296.
Mel will be honored in a Celebration of Life on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the ballroom.