Sylvia K. Lundberg
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Sylvia K. Lundberg

Sylvia K. Lundberg shuffled off this mortal coil, quickly and painlessly, on August 15, 2019 at age 98.

Born in Selbu, Norway, Sylvia joined four brothers and a sister, all given to mischief, as de facto hands on a small farm so far off the grid that daylight had to be sent in via pipeline. Her studies at the University of Oslo were interrupted one fine day in 1940 when the Nazis invaded, her vivid memories of which day she never tired of recounting. Sylvia's ensuing years of spying and gun-running for the Resistance earned her the Defense Medal. She reveled in describing the day in 1945 that US forces marched in, describing the American GIs as "looking like gods."

As a young schoolteacher following the war, she met a vacationing American couple who agreed to sponsor her on a year's visit to the US, which she spent Salem, Oregon. Her repatriation was temporary, and she returned to the US as an impecunious graduate student in English at the University of Washington. After serving Sylvia many dinners out of a Campbell's soup can, fortune smiled on her in the form of a dinner invitation from the renowned sociologist George A. Lundberg, a GI himself (France, WWI) and a classic bachelor professor, who at age 58 loved opera, clothes and being single. Sylvia's charms were overpowering, and they married in 1956. Their family planning consisted of planning not to have one, but in a rare lapse of execution, a year later they welcomed a son. Sylvia, having earned her Master's, became a beloved instructor in Scandinavian Language and Literature at the UW. George's passing in 1966 left her a single mom, a challenge to which she responded by evolving into a successful house flipper, real estate investor, sometime teacher at Ballard High School, and occasional graduate student in Old Icelandic.

In 1988, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she parlayed her considerable Norwegian folkdance talents into years of recreational and competitive ballroom dancing. She lived independently into her mid-80s, and resided happily for more than a decade in the Atria Senior Living community in Pacific Palisades.

Sylvia leaves her son Andy and his wife Amy; her adored grandsons Mike and Dan; her many nieces, nephews and other relatives in Norway; scores of wonderful friends and colleagues (including some notable Danes, and even a few evolved Swedes); a generation of admiring students; and myriad memorable chance encounters hither and yon. She was smart, kind, diligent, funny, humble and loving; a walking talking believer in the American Dream; a wonderful mom and grandmother; and a hell of a dancer. "Skål," Sylvia, you are loved and missed.

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Published in The Seattle Times from Sep. 15 to Sep. 18, 2019.
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