CRYSTAL FALLS – Walter Edgar “Sunny” Sundquist, 87, businessman and philanthropist of Farmington and Crystal Falls, died Thursday, July 11, 2013.
Walter was born March 16, 1926, in Bark River, the son of Walter and Mary (Anesi) Sundquist.
After proudly serving his country in the Navy during World War II, Walter attended Wayne State University’s School of Embalming and Funeral Service, graduating in 1950. Upon earning his degree, he was employed by various funeral homes in Detroit and Redford. He began his renowned business career in Farmington after purchasing the Heeney Funeral Home on May 1, 1964. Following the death of Spencer Heeney in 1963, Mrs. Heeney, impressed with Walter’s integrity, hard work ethic and a bit of charm, sold him Michigan’s oldest family-owned funeral service provider, established in 1850.
Walter worked hard for decades, building a successful, ethical, and sincerely compassionate business that thrives even more today. In fact, the firm’s business motto, “Formal enough to be respectful, relaxed enough to be comfortable,” was actually captured from a customer acknowledgement thanking Walter for exceptional service.
Walter always had extensive community service involvement and a strong sense of philanthropy. A small sample of his involvements include the Farmington Elks, Knights of Columbus, Farmington Beautification Commission and Keep Michigan Beautiful. He was a proud member of his churches, Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington and Guardian Angels in Crystal Falls.
In April 2009, Walter and a friend, Bob Flood, contributed resources to establish the Eddie Chambers Memorial at Forest Park High School in Crystal Falls, memorializing one of The Upper Peninsula’s Sports Hall of Fame basketball coaches for whom Walter had the privilege of playing. One of his proudest achievements, however, was being awarded Farmington’s Citizen of the Year, the very award his mother, Mary, earned in her native Crystal Falls decades earlier.
In 1997, Farmington worked with community members to develop ideas to help make Farmington a better place to live and a common theme was the need for a centralized pavilion-meeting place that could house a farmers market and other events. The Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion was an idea born from this visioning process. While the city approved the concept, funding the project required a private campaign. Walter stepped forward making a donation to ensure the success of the pavilion, which has been named in his honor. This long-anticipated community project had its grand opening October 2005.
Over the course of his career, Walter had the privilege of providing funeral and cremation services to several thousand families from Farmington and its surrounding communities. During his lifetime, he was proud to be a father, grandfather, friend and mentor. His successor, Mark Ziegler, is proud to continue the long-established and respected business presence in the community. It is certain that Mark and his colleagues have big shoes to fill, but Walter would be proud of the ongoing success of the enterprise for which he worked so tirelessly.
He is survived by his devoted daughter, Margo Lynn Sundquist of Schaumburg, Ill.; loving grandchildren, Taylor Walter, Jessica Rose and Matthew Michael; and dedicated caregivers, Robert Sliva and family, and Michael Redig.
Visitation will be Saturday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Jacobs-Plowe Funeral Home of Crystal Falls.
Graveside services will be held Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Crystal Falls. Rev. Fr. Jeffrey Kurtz will officiate. American Legion Post 87 and the East Side Veterans Council will accord military honors at graveside.
In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes are suggested to the St. Vincent de Paul Society Diocesan Council of Marquette – Crystal Falls, 136 Superior Avenue, Crystal Falls, MI 49920, (906) 875-4251, stvincentup.org.
You may light a candle in remembrance of Walter or leave a condolence to his family online at JacobsFuneralHomes.com.
The family has chosen the Jacobs-Plowe Funeral Home of Crystal Falls to honor Walter’s legacy of life.