Lindstrom, Vernie "Vern" G. Jr.
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much-admired business leader, and construction executive, died on April 30th at his residence in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 89. He was born in Rockford, IL, on July 25, 1924 to Vern and Elsie Lindstrom. As the first son of a Swedish immigrant, his heritage was always central to his identity. He was proud of his name, and of his heritage. His family owned Lindstrom's Royal Blue Grocery Store, a popular neighborhood spot among children and families, where he often stocked shelves and chatted with patrons after school. In December 1942, he was a freshman at The Citadel when he was called to duty as an army aviation cadet. He received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of Bulge, the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States in World War II, on the German-French border. After returning from the war, he married Flora Cutler Stanbery, his high school sweetheart, on January 13, 1946, and went on to earn a scholarship to Purdue University, graduating in 1948 with an honors degree in Civil Engineering. He was also a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. After visiting Flora's sister, Jane, in Arizona, the couple made the decision to uproot from their beloved Midwest home and head west; driving three days straight with their two young sons asleep in the back of the family station wagon, and, thus, beginning a new chapter in the American southwest. Upon arrival in Arizona, Lindstrom began his 28-year career at Kitchell as an engineer-estimator in 1961. He served in several leadership positions, first as General Manager in 1961, then President of Kitchell Contractors in 1974 and finally President/CEO of Kitchell Corporation until his retirement in 1989. He continued to serve on the Kitchell Board of Directors for three years following his retirement. Lindstrom was an active member of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the leading association for the construction industry, serving as President in 1985. During his tenure with the AGC, he played a major leadership role in collaborating with Congress on the language for the construction industry as landmark OSHA regulations were developed. After his retirement, Lindstrom continued to consult and travel. Upon college graduation, each of his grandchildren spent two weeks with "Grandpa Vern" on an adventure of his/her choosing; driving the American Civil War Discovery Trail; retracing his steps across Europe in WWII; connecting with Swedish relatives; and visiting, Norway, France, and Italy. Lindstrom was an excellent golfer and avid fly fisherman. He summered at his second home in Flagstaff, Arizona and could often be found at sunset, signature vodka martini in-hand, taking in the San Francisco Peaks with his faithful Golden Retriever at foot. He was preceded in death by his wife, Flora, and his brother, Alan. He is survived by his sons and daughters-in-law, David and Connie Lindstrom, and Steve and Kathi Lindstrom; four grandchildren, Roger Lindstrom, Cynthia Lindstrom Marich, Beth Lindstrom, and Stephanie Lindstrom Herndon. In memoriam gifts may be sent to the Vernie and Flora Lindstrom Golf Scholarship Fund at the Arizona Community Foundation, 2201 E. Camelback Rd. Suite 405B, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Scholarships are being established for college expenses for a female and male graduate of The First Tee of Phoenix. The First Tee is a not-for-profit that teaches the life skills of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and respect through the game of golf to young people who would not otherwise to be able to have affordable access to the game. These values were significant to Flora and Vernie. More information can be obtained at: https://www.azfoundation.org/Donors/GivetoaMemorialFund.aspx
Published in The Arizona Republic on May 18, 2014