Gunnar died Sunday, October 6, 2013 at Jubilee Lodge, Edmonton at the age of 85.
Gunnar was born and raised in Oak Point, MB. He led a fascinating life full of deep friendships and loyalty to the Icelandic community in Edmonton and abroad. He was the father of Gary Thorvaldson, Cindy Thorvaldson, Carla Thorvaldson and loving mentor to nephew Helgi Gunnar Thorvaldson; father-in-law of Blake Mawhinney and Bill Burtnik and afi to Breanna, Megan and Alana Mawhinney and Arden, Mason and Evan Burtnik. Much-loved sisters, Gladys Wirth of Winnipeg and Gloria Tilleman of Havre, MT also survive him. He was predeceased by parents, Helgi and Margrét; sisters, Joyce, Bernice, Rose and brothers, Gordon and August.
As a young man, he worked on the family farm as well as commercial fishing until 1949 when he began his career with CN Telegraphs. He quickly rose to foreman and advanced further by taking and teaching courses. This led to a promotion to the Edmonton office in 1960. He was in charge of estimating and planning, and was instrumental in establishing telephone service to remote communities in what was then the Northwest Territories. A highpoint in his career was teaching the linesman’s course to enthusiastic students in Whitehorse at Yukon College. After retiring from NorthwesTel, he volunteered his time to CESO. His expertise in mapping and planning phone lines was used to rebuild systems in countries as diverse as Antigua to Zambia.
Gunnar was very much a part of the Icelandic Society in Edmonton, becoming president of the club in 1961. Among numerous awards and presentations he was especially proud of receiving life membership to the Icelandic National League in 1972. He adored travel and was often off to see a friend, whether in Scotland, Winnipeg or Reykjavik.
Gunnar was a member of the Masonic Lodge commencing in Winnipeg in 1955. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Royal Arch Masons Yukon Chapter No. 38 GCBC & Yukon and a life member of Whitehorse Lodge No. 46 BCR.
The family cannot thank enough the staff of Jubilee Lodge for their conscientious care throughout his stay. We would also like to thank Doctor Ross Lindskoog for his unflagging care and compassion. Cremation has taken place and the Memorial Service will be held Friday, October 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Church at 10804-119 Street, Edmonton. Interment will be in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg at a later date.
Donations may be made in Gunnar’s memory to the Memorial Society of Edmonton and District, #1108, 10235-124 Street, Edmonton, AB, T5N 1P9 or to a charity of one’s choice.