Wayne David Gunderson, affectionately known as Dave, left this world on Thursday, December 14th, 2023, after courageously battling cancer for two and a half years. Surrounded by his loving family at Essentia St Mary’s in Duluth, MN, Dave, 73, passed peacefully, leaving behind a legacy of love, dedication, and unwavering kindness.
Dave was born on July 20, 1950, in Duluth, the son of Wayne and Dorothy Gunderson. He spent his elementary school days in Eveleth, MN, before returning to Duluth, graduating from Duluth Cathedral High School in 1968. He continued his education at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he earned his degree in 1975.
On March 18, 1972, Dave married the love of his life, Renee LeRoux, embarking on a remarkable journey that spanned 51 beautiful years. Their union blessed them with four incredible children and nine cherished grandchildren, who were the light of Dave's life.
A proud veteran, Dave served his country in the US Army from 1969 to 1971, stationed at the Panama Canal and Fort Snelling. Professionally, he excelled in the insurance industry, earning the designation of CPCU and working diligently for Transamerica, American Family, Catholic Mutual, Farmers, and eventually establishing his own AAA Insurance Agency.
Sports held a special place in Dave's heart. He passionately coached his children in hockey, baseball, football, and basketball. His commitment extended beyond the sidelines as he officiated football games, holding the down markers, at Public School Stadium and UMD for an impressive 45 years. His leadership shone brightly as the head coach for the West Duluth Junior League Football for a decade, and through his roles as President of Duluth Little League and Merritt Youth Hockey Assn and his service on the boards of various sports associations, including DAHA and DAYBA.
Beyond his professional and sports endeavors, Dave was an avid golfer, a passionate runner who completed five consecutive Grandma’s Marathons in his younger years, and an unwavering supporter of the Minnesota Vikings and Twins. However, his greatest joy came from being "Papa Dave," the #1 fan of his grandchildren, cheering them on in all their pursuits.
Dave's dedication to his community was unwavering. He was an active member of the American Legion Post 71 and a devout member of St. James Catholic Church. His commitment extended to serving on the finance committee and volunteering as a tutor, guiding students in Math and Science at the elementary school.
His authentic nature, intelligence, boundless generosity, and compassion defined him. Dave's laughter was infectious, his spirit uplifting, and his quick wit always ready with a joke. He was a beacon of strength and kindness to all who knew him.
Dave was preceded in death by his parents, Wayne and Dorothy, and his brothers Tom and Michael Gunderson. He leaves behind a legacy of love, survived by his devoted wife Renee; his children, Andrew, David (Sherri), Mark (Katie), Joannie Weber (John); and his nine beloved grandchildren, Thomas, Alexa, Jillian, Evan, Mya, & Colin Gunderson, Abbey, Bradley, & Caroline Weber. He is also survived by his brothers, John (Karen), Joe (Leisa), and sisters, Kathy (Jim) Doyle, Mary (Joe) Vujcevic, Judy (Bob) Thornton, & Joan Wick, sister-in-laws Mary Jo & Carol Gunderson, along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Wayne David Gunderson's legacy of love, service, and laughter will forever resonate in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to have known him. He touched countless lives and will be deeply missed.
Visitation to honor Dave's memory will be held on Wednesday, December 20th, starting at 9:30 AM, followed by a funeral mass at 11:00 AM at St. James Catholic Church, 721 N 57th Ave W. Burial in Oneota Cemetery with Military Honors accorded by the Duluth Honor Guard. A reception to celebrate his life will take place at the West Duluth American Legion. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Williams Lobermeier Boettcher Funeral Home.