In Memory of Gunnar Valdimarsson

posted 12 May 2010

Our colleague and friend, Gunnar Valdimarsson passed away peacefully at home on May 9, 2010 after a courageous struggle with cancer.

Gunnar was born February 25, 1959 in Reykjavik, Iceland, to Valdimar Sigurdsson and Brynhildur Daisy Eggertsdottir. He and his brother Stefán had fond memories of their childhood and of summers in the country. Gunnar was predeceased by his father, his father-in-law, Dr. Bödvar Bjarki Jakobson, and his brother-in-law, Gestur Jakobson. He is mourned by his wife, Lorna Jakobson, and sons, Kári and Benedikt; his mother; his brother Stefán, sister-in-law Gudlaug, and their children, Valdimar and Gisli; his mother-in-law, Borga Jakobson; Lorna's family, including Kristine and Bill Perlmutter, Lynne Erickson and Otto Christensen, Thora and Pascal Delaquis, Irene and Jim Marks, Karl and Tracy Jakobson, Glen Jakobson and Yumi Kobayashi, Alma and Mark McCaffrey, and their families; by a large, extended family in Iceland; and by many friends and colleagues.

Gunnar first came to Canada to work on the farm of Gunnar Simundsson of Arborg, Manitoba. His connection with the Simundsson family was very special to him. He met Lorna in 1980, during his first year at the University of Manitoba. They were married in 1985. Gunnar finished his B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Manitoba, and then completed a Ph.D. in Zoology at the University of Western Ontario. He did postdoctoral work and had his first academic appointment at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

It was during their time in Kingston that Lorna and Gunnar's twin sons were born. The boys were extremely premature and have faced many challenges over the years. Gunnar's love and care for the boys has helped to make them into the wonderful young men they are today. He was very proud of them.

Gunnar and Lorna moved back to Winnipeg in 1997, where they both took up academic positions at the University of Manitoba. Gunnar was a dedicated scientist and teacher, and a valued member of the Department of Biological Sciences. He was also a keen distance runner, enjoyed a wide variety of music, liked to cook and entertain, and was a lifelong Arsenal fan.

Gunnar had a close group of friends, who were a very faithful support to him throughout his illness. Special thanks to Erwin and Judy Huebner, Bill Diehl-Jones, Joerg and Stephanie Stetefeld, and the members of the Biological Sciences and Psychology Departments of the University of Manitoba for their kindness, support and meals on wheels.

His family would like to thank the staff at CancerCare Manitoba, Dr. Hartley, and the Home Care workers and palliative care nurses who helped to care for him at home. Gunnar never complained. He fought as hard as he could against his illness, but accepted its progression with grace and dignity.

A memorial service is planned for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, 2010 at Neil Bardal Inc., 3030 Notre Dame Avenue (across from Brookside Cemetery), Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, or the Canadian Cancer Society.

Please share memories of Gunnar and condolences with his family in Canada and Iceland at NEIL BARDAL INC. 949-2200 

Gunnar's family has asked if you could share memories or your condolences at the Neil Bardal site so that relatives in Iceland will be able to be more directly involved in the celebration of his life.

obituary courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press