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Sundberg loves to visit his hometown; Family places two plaques in Red Wing

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The David Sundberg family - from left, Wendy Kuhl, David, Amy Mincer, and Craig Sundberg. Photo courtesy of Amy Mincer2 / 10
David Sundberg, right, with longtime friends George and Barb Vogel in front of Sundberg's childhood home where the Vogels now live. Photo by Amy Mincer3 / 10
David Sundberg enjoys a brief rest on the bench his family dedicated to him in Levee Park. Photo by Amy Mincer4 / 10
David Sundberg grew up in Red Wing and loved to go boating on the river. Photo by Amy Mincer5 / 10
The plaque reflects David Sundberg's love of Red Wing and the Mississippi River. Photo by Amy Mincer6 / 10
The Sundberg Brothers Grocery store opened in 1920 at the corner of Main and Plum. Photo courtesy of Amy Mincer7 / 10
Harold Sundberg opened Sundberg Brothers Grocery in 1920 and operated the business for 50 years. Photo courtesy of Amy Mincer8 / 10
Harold Sundberg was known in Red Wing as a generous man who helped make sure people had food even in difficult times. Photo courtesy of Amy Mincer9 / 10
The Sundberg family placed this plaque on the building at Main and Plum in Red Wing. Photo by Amy Mincer10 / 10

When David Sundberg graduated from Red Wing High School in 1958, he headed to Lincoln, Neb., to play football for the University of Nebraska. Although he left Red Wing, Red Wing never left him, and he recently returned to leave a mark on his hometown.

A serious knee injury his freshman year dashed his hopes of playing for the Huskers. While Nebraska football didn't work out for Sundberg, other things did. He joined the ROTC program and met his future wife, Linda. They married in October 1961.

He graduated in 1962 and entered the U.S. Army. He became a captain and pilot of a Cessna Bird Dog, an observation plane designed to locate enemy troops and direct artillery fire toward them. He served in Vietnam in 1966-67.

David Sundberg returned to place a plaque on the site of the former Sundberg Brothers Grocery Store. Photo by Amy MincerFollowing his time in the Army, Sundberg went to work for Massachusetts Mutual, selling insurance and financial products in the Lincoln area. He and Linda raised three children, and frequently brought them back to Red Wing to visit friends and enjoy the river that was so important to him in his youth.

"The river was a huge part of his growing up," said daughter Amy Mincer. "He loved the river. His dad bought him a boat, so he spent a lot of time on the river."

When Sundberg visits Red Wing, he always visits his childhood friend, George Vogel, an attorney in Red Wing.

"George bought the house my dad grew up in from my grandpa, and he has had it for the last 49 years. Every time we come back to Red Wing, we can always go to my dad's childhood home, because George owns it," Mincer said.

Sundberg's attachment to Red Wing goes deeper than childhood friends and river memories. Sundberg's father, Harold, and his brother Elroy opened Sundberg Brothers' Grocery in 1920 and ran the store for about 50 years.

"My grandpa was a very generous man," Mincer said, "and my dad heard story after story about him at his funeral of people who said how much he helped them get through hard times like the Depression, because he was so kind-hearted. If people couldn't pay, he made sure they had food."

All those memories came together as part of a special trip for Sundberg and his children.

"I asked my dad, who is aging, if he would like to do something to leave a mark on Red Wing," Mincer explained. "He said yes."

Mincer talked to several people and learned that there were still two dedicated benches available in Levee Park. Her family paid the sponsorship for one bench and designed a plaque to place on the bench.

She also contacted the owner of the building where Sundberg Brothers' Grocery was located at the corner of Main and Plum. She asked permission to attach a plaque to the building and the current owners agreed.

In October, Sundberg traveled to Red Wing with his three children, daughters Amy Mincer and Wendy Kuhl, and son Craig Sundberg, who played quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1980s.

"My mom was going to come with us, too, but she wasn't feeling well, so she didn't make it," Mincer explained.

The family visited the Vogels so Sundberg could see his childhood home. They also installed the plaques on the bench in Levee Park and on the side of the building at the site of the former grocery store.

"There's a lot of Sundberg history in the museum there in town," Mincer said. "Red Wing is such a special town. Us kids didn't grow up there, but because we visited so often, I think it will always be special to us."

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

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