May 17, 2021

Eugene J. Sundeen

Eugene “Gene” Sundeen passed from this world on May 14, 2021 at the age of 94, surrounded by family.

He was born on June 7, 1926 in Lincoln, NE, where he attended school from kindergarten in Lincoln Public Schools. He received two masters’ degrees from UNL.

It was during his junior year at Lincoln High School that he began playing trumpet with the Eddie Garner Band and discovered a passion for playing big band music that would last for a lifetime.

Immediately after graduation from Lincoln High School (we never stumble, we never fall) he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps where he served during WWII.

After his military service he returned to Lincoln, regained his chops, and resumed playing trumpet with Eddie Garner, who was a father figure as well as a music mentor.

Gene enrolled at UNL where he met his true love, Gloria Sandels, who was a talented music major and pianist from Fairbury, NE.

During a 40-year teaching career, he was most proud of his service to “the kids” in Northeast Lincoln as a teacher and counselor with Lincoln Public Schools.

In fact, he pushed open the front doors of the brand new Dawes Jr. High School in 1958. The students at Dawes nicknamed him “The Wizard of Dawes” and he loved it.

After fronting his own 4-piece combo for two years, he returned to his first love – big bands. Gene followed his combo gigs playing trumpet with the popular Bud Holloway Orchestra.  He also wrote special big band arrangements and was a featured vocalist. Singing was another of his passions.  It was a meaningful part of his life in junior and senior high, at UNL, with the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church Choir, and the Lincoln Civic Chorus. Truly a moveable feast.

He is survived by: daughters Cindy Sundeen, Omaha; Lori Sundeen Soderbergh; Dallas; sons, Tom Sundeen, Lincoln and Jim Sundeen, Denver; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Gloria; son, Bill; sister, Shirley; parents and grandparents.

Visitation: 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, May 20, 2021, at Wyuka Funeral Home, Lincoln. Private graveside service will be held at Wyuka Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the UNL Alumni Association.


  1. “Another Lincoln High Job Well Done.”

  2. Rest in peace Gene. Your family will miss you greatly. I know you have a lot of students who remember you with gratitude and appreciation. A life well lived.

  3. I will always remember Mr. Sundeen. I am in the group picture of the Dawes Jr. High Orchestra circa 1960. I am in the front row left hand side holding the cymbals. Mr. Sundeen called me Bongo as I was always banging around on my snare drum. I got the honor of being one of his teaching assistants my 9th grade year. Blessings to the family of a fine man.

  4. We lived down the street from the Sundeens on Walker Avenue. I saw Mr. Sundeen at the Legacy a couple yrs ago when I was visiting my Mom there. He was getting exercise by walking the halls and when my Mom greeted him and told him who I was he just lit up and said, “oh of course, I remember Joyce.” We had a good conversation about Walker Avenue and the neighborhood. My deepest condolences to the Sundeen family. My Mom enjoyed visiting with Mr. Sundeen at the Legacy. May he RIP and may you find comfort in knowing that he was respected and loved by so many.

  5. I remember Mr. Sundeen from Dawes when I attended 5-7th grades, 1958-61. Since I wasn’t in band, it must have tonette lessons, but I can still picture him in that classroom. He made a lasting impression on me, because I went on to letter in band during high school in Dannebrog, Nebraska. My daughter remembers him from her high school days at Northeast as a “good guy”. My condolences to the family.


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