Remembering John S. Rundberg, 1939-2021

Family and friends are remembering John S. Rundberg and have just provided this remembrance to share with the community:

John Sarjent Rundberg was born on November 22, 1939 in St Louis, Missouri to Ray A. and Wilma G. Rundberg. John passed away on December 28, 2021 after being diagnosed on his 82nd birthday with a very rare undifferentiated, aggressive pancreatic cancer.

The things John was most proud of:

~His time at Ohio State University
~Four years of service in the U.S. Army
~Being a teacher/ librarian with the Seattle Public Schools from 1969-2008 – Teaching from high school down to kindergarten, while always inspiring students with his love for books and reading.
~Marriage to his wife Diann and helping her raise her four children: Tyler, Ryan, Sarah, and Micah. His love of being a Grandfather to Granddaughters Zoey A. and Taya V.

While being a member of the Hutchison family for 25-plus years.

~ A beach home in Manzanita, Oregon
~ Leading six major river canoe trips 1989 -1997
~ Maintaining deep lifetime friendships
~ Travels all over the US and Canada: camping in tents, Tipi, and finally an RV
~ Six years of taking a group of volunteer friends and family to “The American Prairie Reserve” to clean up and preserve the land for the growing Bison population.

The John We All Came to Know and Love:

Tipi man John * wood crafter John * plaid flannel shirt John * newspaper clipper John * Montana bison fence remover John * dog lover John * comes down for dinner, then leaves John * pie lover John * always has 5-7 knives on him John * surprise benefactor John * storyteller John * teacher John * canoe paddler in the pool John * musician John * technophobe John * historian John * Friend John * knitter of squares John * book collector John * librarian John * Manzanita community member John * won’t fly, train man John * cowboy novel reader John * and: “Always about our age” * Plus: Husband * Father * Brother * Uncle * Cousin * Grandpa *

John is survived by his wife, Diann Hutchison Rundberg; Brother, Paul Rundberg (Sandy); nieces Suzanne Jones and Rebecca Boozer, all of Greenville, SC
Sister Karen Rundberg Bunney (Rob) and niece Annika Bunney, all of Bellevue, WA.
Stepchildren, Ryan, Sarah, and Micah Packard (Tyler Vance, preceded him in death in 2012 )
Two Granddaughters, Zoey A. and Taya V.
And many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Please read: “All Is Well” by Henry Scott Holland

Share memories, condolences, and photos of John on the Tribute Wall at

Arrangements entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services of West Seattle

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries and memorial announcements by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to

13 Replies to "Remembering John S. Rundberg, 1939-2021"

  • Bryan May 2, 2022 (9:15 am)

    John was hands down one of the greatest West Seattle residents of all time. John spent almost as much time in my classes at Lafayette as my real teachers did and always strived to teach us something new every day. He would read my class novels about homesteading and old western stories that were a perfect mix of adventure and life lessons that gave me a passion for reading outside of school no one else could. I spent hours in his backyard learning about traditional covered wagon building and while I’m sure we were more burden than help, John would make sure any kid that wanted to try out a planer or chisel got the chance to try on his real projects. I will never forget the lessons and experiences he brought to my childhood nor his impact on the West Seattle community.I have two memories of John that always come up when my family talks about him: The time he showed my 5th grade class taught by Catherine Bloom how to split a log and found a bee’s nest inside (5-10 minutes of panic ensued), and the time in that same 5th grade class he brought in a bear trap and made me reach in to set it while he stood on it to hold it open (John knew my parents so he figured he could pass along any missing arm news pretty easily).

  • alkikid May 2, 2022 (11:11 am)

    Aww sorry to hear this. He was my kindergarten teacher a long time ago and I will always remember how kind and fun he was! He loved reading to us and giving out piggy back rides and the class trips to his house where he’d show us all the teepee he built in his yard were super fun. He was such a cool teacher to have!

  • jkpatman May 2, 2022 (12:08 pm)

    sending love to the whole family! it’s been years since sarah and micah were at wshs but a great family with a strong north admiral presence and a huge heart. i am so sorry for your loss.

  • Kase May 2, 2022 (12:26 pm)

    Rest well Mr. Rundberg, we love you!! I spent my elementary years at Lafayette and I will never forget one of the best people ever. 

  • Carson May 2, 2022 (4:09 pm)

    My favorite John story. The day we moved into our house next to John a younger co-worker of my wife was helping us. When we pulled up with the U-Haul he saw the Teepee in Johns yard and got out and ran to knock on Johns door, easily the most excited I have seen an adult. He came back excited that we were living so close to his favorite teacher as a child. I had no clue who john was at that time but eventually he and his wife Diann become our closest neighbors and good friends. Years later I told john that story and he was almost embarrassed. I told him, that single act was the highest compliment a teacher could ever get. An asset to all of us, he is missed daily. 

  • Mike May 2, 2022 (9:19 pm)

    A good man.

  • Big Bling May 4, 2022 (8:15 am)

    A true renaissance man. Helped everyone, anywhere. Knew the value of a sharp axe, a sharp wit, and a good pet. He is missed.

  • Big Bling May 4, 2022 (8:18 am)

  • Big Bling May 4, 2022 (9:49 am)

    A true renaissance man. Knew the value of a sharp axe and a sharp wit and a good pet. He will be missed.

  • Big Bling May 4, 2022 (9:51 am)

    Knew the value of leverage. Got this stone upright with blocks and braces and bare hands.

  • RP May 7, 2022 (4:17 pm)

    I had the privilege of spending a bit of time with John nearly every day of the last eight years of his life.  I will always treasure his unique friendship.  John’s way of being invited others to slow down, to notice, to consider, to tend, and to steward.  This applied to how he resoled his moccasins, how he talked about his many students over the years, how he told a story, how he showed up when we lost our beloved dog, how he salvaged wood to make beautiful buckets and stools (and then generously gave them away), how he honored our Native neighbors, and in so much more.  His care and intention in seeking a meaningful and connected life showed up in every book recommendation and article clipped, in every conversation about the meaning of life, in how he walked the neighborhood and knew the name of every dog and child, and especially how he savored the gift of the many years entrusted to him with his wife, Diann.  We miss John every day, and are so thankful to have had the privilege of walking alongside him (as he walked alongside our sweet pups) for the past eight years.  What a gift.  What a treasure.  

  • West Seattle Person May 7, 2022 (11:12 pm)

    Such great memories of Mr. Rundberg.  He was such a caring teacher and librarian. Hatchet. Does anybody else remember him reading Hatchet? It was legendary. He was an awesome presence and was inspiring. He had a gift like nobody else. He will be missed.

  • Phillip Frick May 14, 2022 (7:37 pm)

    Didn’t know John that well. He was our neighbor for eight years. Always walked his dog’s past our house at 4:00 every day and we would talk. What great man . We will miss him.
    Bless you John.

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