Donald A. Gunderson, Jr., age 64, of Mount Holly, North Carolina, passed away on Friday, May 11, 2018 at his home surrounded by his family after a battle with cancer. Don was born November 6, 1953, in Puerto Rico, to Patricia (Heft) Stancer and Donald A. Gunderson, Sr. He was raised in Rio, Wisconsin and graduated from Rio High School in 1971. After graduation, Donnie proudly served 10 years as an Air Traffic Controller in the US Navy; NAS Cubi Point, NAS Oceana, and FACSFAC San Diego. While stationed in the Philippines he met the love of his life and was united in marriage to his “Pangit”, Lucenda Pasayloon, in Olongapo City, Philippines, on July 29, 1975. Donnie earned his private pilot’s license and commercial instrument rating flying T34’s in the Navy. The greatest joys in his 33 year career were working Oceana, being Air Traffic Manager at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, coordinating the Blue Angels at the MKE Airshow and playing God Bless the USA during his many orchestrated fly-bys. After retiring from the FAA in 2003 he was on to his next adventure as a government contractor for the FAA. This new “gig” sent him across the country with some of the best friends of his life. His passion for aviation drove him and made him a huge success. He was an invaluable resource and the “go-to guy” for many throughout his career. Donnie spent his leisure time fishing, hunting, boating, flying, and traveling, and finding time to belly up to the nearest bar to have a good laugh. Whether it was retelling one of his infamous stories or being in the midst of a new one, Donnie was always up for a good time. He adored his “Ma” and they spent every morning on the phone solving life’s problems. Donnie also loved his dogs and would often take them on his adventures, be it road tripping with Bugger dog, flying with Pep, or boating with Herman and Hazel. Above all, Donnie was proud of his family. It gave him great comfort knowing his children and grandchildren were happy and healthy. Donald is survived by his loving wife, Lucy; beloved mother, Patricia Stancer; father, Donald A. Gunderson, Sr.; children, Louie (Fercilyn) Gunderson of Temecula, California, Angie (Jeramie) York of Springfield, Oregon and Mindy (Christopher) Riddle of Mount Holly, North Carolina ; grandchildren, Lianna and Ayden Gunderson, Evelyn, Briella and Dane York, Jack and Olivia Riddle; great-grandchild Annaya Aucoin; siblings, Peggy (John) Moll, Shari (Rick) Kleist, Steve (Gail) Stancer, Janet (Rick) Millard, Dawn (Gregg) Mallory, Della Heasler, Gene (Pegg) Johnson; dear friend, Lynn McCarthy. Special thanks to the staff at Hospice & Palliative Care in Lincolnton, North Carolina, for taking great care of Don and our family. We will be forever grateful for the compassion you showed us. The Good Samaritan Funeral Home Denver served the Gunderson Family.
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