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Trudy J. Sundberg Memorial Endowment Reaches $50,000


The Trudy‚Äč J. Sundberg Memorial Lecture Series is now one step closer to becoming a reality.  This past January, the Trudy Sundberg Memorial Fund, begun by Trudy’s friend and admirer Marshall Goldberg MD, crossed the $50,000 threshold necessary to become an invested endowment.  The fund is the culmination of an extraordinary five-month fundraising campaign by Dr. Goldberg and Oak Harbor Managing Librarian Mary Campbell.  The Endowment will pay for an annual lecture series held in Trudy’s name that will include nationally recognized speakers and multiple events surrounding each lecture, beginning in 2015. As Dr. Goldberg himself asserts, “This is a wonderful testament to Trudy’s legacy, but there is still much work to be done.” 

Trudy Sundberg – A Life Fully Lived

The initial success of the Endowment can be directly traced to Ms. Sundberg’s extraordinary impact on the Whidbey Island community and beyond.  She was many things – an author, teacher, activist, artist – and through her multiple endeavors, managed to touch the lives of thousands of people.

Ms. Sundberg grew up during the Great Depression, and actually performed with her father in Vaudeville shows to earn money for the family.  In the 1940s she became an admirer of Harry Truman, an affinity which would guide her dynamic activism for years to come.  Throughout her early life, she developed a passion for education, art, politics, and literature.

After many stops with her husband John, a captain in the Navy, the couple finally settled in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, and Trudy began her lifelong commitment to engaging, challenging, and enriching her community.  She founded several community action organizations, including the Whidbey Island Democratic Club, and was three-term president of the League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island.  In the 1990s she founded the Save Our Kids Crusade, an anti-violence coalition that addressed gang violence in Oak Harbor secondary schools.  Her community activism was recognized in 2004, when she won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Magnuson Award, named after longtime Washington State Senator Warren Magnuson.

Her pursuits were not limited to activism, however.  She published many magazine and newspaper articles, academic books, and two history books: "Portrait Of An Island" (the first paperback about Whidbey Island) and “O’Bannon: Lieutenant Presley Neville O’Bannon, USMC Hero of the War with Barbary Pirates in Tripoli.”  The final edition of “O’Bannon” was published in 2009, when Ms. Sundberg was 85.  In typical Trudy fashion, she eschewed the more famous story of Gen. William Eaton for the more substantial one of O’Bannon.  As she put it, “The reason my book is on O’Bannon is there are a lot of books on Eaton. He’s the make-believe general.”  Her literary interests were not limited to her own authorship.  She was an avid reader and library user, and began a book group that eventually became the Whidbey Reads annual event, in which hundreds of Whidbey Island residents read and discuss a new book each year.

Throughout her life she was known for her boundless energy, curiosity, and intelligence.  In her later years she turned her garage into a history museum of her family, Oak Harbor, and Whidbey Island.  She managed to accomplish her civic goals while teaching English and Journalism at Oak Harbor High School and raising a family of four children.  She was still advocating and learning when she died on June 29, 2013, at the age of 88.

The Lecture Series

Dr. Goldberg, a retired physician, established the Trudy J. Sundberg Endowment to match the scope of her interests and achievements.  The only way to accomplish that goal was to produce a truly impactful event that would reflect Trudy’s passion for politics, knowledge, literature, and history.  He envisions an annual lecture event, including presentations from the best minds in the country, and extra events related to the lecture topics.  Nothing less would do Ms. Sundberg’s legacy justice.

As Dr. Goldberg explained, “I knew Trudy in the later years of her life, and she had a huge impact on me.  I thought of her as a mentor.  Once I began fundraising for her fund, I realized she had mentees everywhere.  She had such an incredible impact on so many people.”

Dr. Goldberg’s tireless fundraising efforts have secured the initial funding to make the Trudy Sundberg Memorial Lecture series a reality.  Now comes the next exciting stage – selecting the first lecturer and growing the endowment to the size it needs to be to properly fund speakers, event spaces, and programs for years to come.  The lecture series will be as impactful as the endowment can make it. His next goal is to increase the principle of the fund to $100,000.    

As the next stage of fundraising commences, the words of Trudy’s daughter, Jan Whitsitt, have particular importance.

"One of mom's favorite quotes was from Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) the influential educator who said:  "Everyone's life is measured by the power that that individual has to make our communities and the world better.  That is all life is."

“Trudy lived her life by this guiding principle.  In every town we moved to, in addition to teaching, mom always started a book, culture, environmental or political club to bring people together to make the world better.  Her passion was promoting lifelong learning through the exchange of information, ideas and opinions.  We are so thrilled that the Trudy J. Sundberg Memorial Lecture Series, (created by one of her club members), is being supported by a wide variety of dear friends and former students who were touched by mom's passion and now wish to keep her spirit for learning and sharing alive."

The Trudy J, Sundberg Memorial Endowment is managed by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.  To make a donation to her legacy, send your gift to:

Trudy J. Sundberg Memorial Lecture Series, Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation, 7312 35th Ave. N.E., Marysville, WA 98271

Or make your gift online and designate the Trudy J. Sundberg Memorial Lecture Series.


Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation is a public, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization registered with
the United States Internal Revenue Service and the Washington State Secretary of State.

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