Sigvald Strandberg Obituary (1943 – 2021) – Juneau, AK

Lifelong Alaskan and Fairbanks resident, Sigvald John Strandberg, Sr., 78, died of natural causes on November 16, 2021, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Strandberg was born January 29, 1943, in Anchorage, the second of four sons to Odin and Marie (Nordstrand) Strandberg, an Alaskan Mining family. During summers, Sig grew up at the Strandberg family placer gold mines. As a young man, he operated heavy machinery alongside his older brother, Odin Jr. They made the dirt fly! Together they mined gold, gaining a hard work ethic from their father, uncles and the men and women who worked at the mines-expert miners and skilled tradesmen with resumes touching every Alaska mining district, most of whom were survivors of the Great Depression and veterans of World War II and Korea. That experience was Sig’s north star.

In wintertime, Sig had grade schooling and junior high in Anchorage and two years of high school in Fairbanks at Lathrop while his father pursued his mining engineering degree from the School of Mines at UAF. Following graduation from Anchorage High School in 1961, he attended Willamette University for a year starting that fall. Sig and Odin, Jr. also helped their father perform professional land surveys after high school. In 1963 he enrolled at Alaska Methodist University (AMU), in Anchorage. During his college years, he worked with his younger brother, James, at their father’s natural gas fired power plant that supplied electricity to the City of Kenai. He met his future wife, Arlene Carole Bowers at AMU, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 1965. That fall he briefly attended Graduate School at Long Beach State University before returning to Alaska-back to work for his father at the power plant!

Sig and Arlene were married August 8, 1966 in the chapel next to Mendenhall Lake. Settling down in Anchorage, Arlene taught elementary school while Sig drove school bus, pumped fuel for the U.S. Army at the port and helped his father with power plant business. But things abruptly changed that winter when Arlene’s father suddenly died in Juneau. At the military funeral for Mr. Bowers, retired Chief Engineer, U.S. Coast Guard and World War II veteran who saw naval combat in all theaters, Sig solemnly witnessed the gun volley salute and presentation of the American Flag to Mrs. Bowers. Without hesitation, Sig and Arlene moved to Juneau, to be close to her mother. Sig went to work for the State of Alaska as a Local Affairs’ specialist, traveling to all corners of Alaska working with local governments, a front-row seat to the early days of statehood. They began their family with the birth of their son, Sig Jr., followed a year and a half later by son, Neil; both born at St. Ann’s Hospital. Sig served in the Alaska National Guard for six years, in the capital. In 1973, Sig moved his family to Anchorage and began a career in real estate. Around then he was appointed to the State of Alaska’s Local Boundary Commission, an undertaking that entailed, once again, extensive travel and the opportunity to meet with many Alaskans. Though the position was unpaid (travel expenses were reimbursed), Sig proudly served through the 1970’s, some of that time as chairman. After a few busy years as a young father, uncompensated part-time state official and full-time junior realtor, Sig and several partners, including some experienced home builders, formed a real estate company. Infused with Sig’s entrepreneurial spirit and leadership as its Broker, the company competed and saw prosperity during Alaska’s booming “Pipeline” era. In business, Sig happily wove information and advice with a friendly welcome, as many of his clients were making fresh starts in Alaska, establishing community roots, along with their first equity.

When falling North Slope crude oil prices led to a collapse in Alaska’s economy, Sig moved his family to Fairbanks. There he joined James’s engineering consulting firm, contributing to numerous building designs around town. Sig later worked for the State of Alaska DOT&PF Right of Way section until his retirement in 2006. He and Arlene became members of the Fairbanks Lutheran Church (FLC), where one of Sig’s greatest enjoyments was singing with the choir at the Heritage service. Over the years he served several terms on the FLC Council, and from time to time was a member or chairman of various FLC committees. Sig volunteered spare time chairing the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB), Mountain View Road Service Area Commission, and was known for his good management. He recently was appointed to the FNSB Road Plan Steering Committee.

Sig had deep appreciation for Alaska’s aviation history, and held in high regard the bush pilots serving remote Alaska. Sig earned his private pilot’s license in his late teens. When he graduated from college, Sig’s father gifted him the honor of flying the family plane, brand new off the Cessna assembly line, from Wichita, Kansas, back to Alaska. Flying small aircraft to destinations in the Alaskan bush provided Sig with joy, adventure, and a sense of accomplishment throughout his life. Sig was a hunter and experienced outdoorsman; he loved dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers, at least one by his side for most of his adult life. Sig was the family photographer, documenting events with his weathered Pentax 35-millimeter cameras, and in later years, with digital pictures taken on his Samsung and iPhones. He narrated slideshows at family Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, always a captivating blend of stories and Alaskan history. Sig stayed interested in Alaska placer mining, enthusiastically developing a prospect after he retired that his father had endorsed many years before. Over the course of his life, Sig was blessed to have shared fellowship, toil and talk of paystreaks with so very many good persons; that in his heart and mind, he held quiet love and hope for each of them. Sig will be remembered as Arlene’s loving and thoughtful husband and father of their sons; for the dignity with which he carried the Strandberg family name, the decency with which he cared and looked out for his family, friends, neighbors and fellow Alaskans and the respect he held for honorable men and women in uniform. Sig was a representative of all that is good about the Alaskan culture.

Mr. Strandberg is survived by his wife of 55 years, Arlene Strandberg; sons and daughter-in-law, Sigvald Strandberg Jr., Neil Strandberg (Cynthia Barrand); brothers and sisters in-law, James Strandberg (Fariba), Baerent Strandberg (Yekaterina); sister-in-law, Karon Strandberg, widow of Odin Jr.; former sister-in-law Emiko Strandberg; brother in-law Robert Bowers (Nancy) of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; nieces and nephews, Heather (Strandberg) Hartman (Chris), Edward Strandberg III (April), Erica (Strandberg) Pohl (Matthew), Roy Strandberg (Stephanie), Mark Strandberg, all of Alaska; nieces and nephews (whose mother was Robert’s first wife Joyce), Tammy (Bowers) Beatson (Mark), Debbie (Bowers) Fulton (Dave), Judi Bowers, Robert Bowers II (Andrea), Michelle (Bowers) Sommer, Erik Bowers (Donna), and Dorrie Bowers, all residing outside Alaska. Surviving maternal aunt and uncles, Nell Cox, Carl Nordstrand and Victor Nordstrand, all of Texas. Surviving paternal cousins, Kathleen (Doheny) Hennessey, David Strandberg, Douglas Strandberg, Steven Strandberg, Mary (Kuntz) Tietz (Gary), Chris Anderson, Eileen (Kuntz) Jones, and Leo Kuntz, all residing outside Alaska; and many more maternal and paternal nieces and nephews residing outside Alaska.

Sig was preceded in death by his father and mother in-law, Louis W. and Arlene M. (Herb) Bowers, brother Edward Odin Strandberg Jr., father Edward Odin Strandberg and mother Marie D. (Nordstrand) Strandberg.

There will be a Funeral service on January 15, 2022 at 1:00 pm, at Fairbanks Lutheran Church, 1012 Cowles Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701. The service will be live-streamed on the FLC Facebook page. After the leaves bud and open next year, an outdoor gathering celebrating Sig’s life will be held in Fairbanks, time and location to be announced in the future. His ashes will be spread by family and friends out at the crik.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations or checks made out to: the Building Fund, Fairbanks Lutheran Church, mailing address above, or for instructions on how to make online donations to the FLC Building Fund, contact Cathy Birklid at the following email address: [email protected]; or to a charity of choice.

Published by Juneau Empire from Dec. 31, 2021 to Jan. 30, 2022.

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