Debra F. Sundby


April 26,1951-April 27, 2023 Debra (Deb) F. Sundby, age 72, passed away April 27, 2023, a very loving mother, grandmother, and friend to many.

Deb was born April 26, 1951, in Wadena, MN into the unconditional loving arms of her wonderful parents, Mildred (Millie) and Harold Sundby, and older brother Steve. Deb had an idyllic childhood growing up in Wadena, residing in vibrant neighborhood where she would meet lifelong friends. Following high school graduation, Deb attended Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, graduating in 1973 with a major in Childhood Education. Following graduation, she married Anthony Munson. They then ventured to live in Bochum, Germany for Anthony’s graduate studies. Upon return to St. Paul in 1976, Deb began her career as a teacher at the Wilder Foundation where she thoroughly enjoyed engaging with and teaching young children. In 1978, Deb and Anthony started their family, becoming parents to Noah (d. 1978), Emily, and Ned, before later divorcing in 1983.

In 1985, Deb was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the young age of 35, which would begin a string of significant health challenges for the remainder of her life. In 1986, Deb moved back to Wadena to raise her children, who were her true pride and purpose in life. As a single mother, Deb gave her kids all of herself, always ensuring they received the utmost love, encouragement, opportunity, and optimism-her signature trait. She valued playing an active role in her children’s lives and always went above and beyond to be there for them. Naturally, she displayed this same intense love and enthusiasm when she embraced her next maternal role as grandmother to her six grandchildren. Deb loved making memorable moments for the children in her life; she reveled in creating surprises and celebrations, always putting her warm and special touch on both the smallest and largest of days.

Beyond her family, Deb had a passion for fashion, interior decorating, and art. She had excellent taste, a keen eye for style and design, and was always the most fashionable woman in the room. She loved to read, enjoyed films, writing letters, stationary, stamps, her brother’s jokes, the newspaper, and her rotating selection of distinctive nighttime snacks, among many other things. Deb was also passionate about advocating for people with disabilities, educating on person-first and direct language.

As the years went on, Deb’s rheumatoid arthritis caused her to develop multiple health challenges, but she never let illness get in her way. Despite the physical hardships she faced, she always wore her beautiful smile and approached each day with the attitude of ‘it could be worse’, embodying endless positivity and the utmost resiliency. Deb lived each day giving it her all, right up until the end. She will be remembered for her contagious optimism, selflessness, steadfast strength and determination, nurturing spirit, and her glowing soul that always exuded warmth, kindness, care, and calm. Her signature radiant smile and bright eyes will be deeply missed by many.

Deb is preceded in death by her son Noah, parents Millie and Harold, and brother Peter. She is survived by her daughter Emily Headrick (Dave), son Ned Munson (Kate), brother Steve Sundby (Nancy), honorary sister Jeanne Nordstrom (Al), grandchildren Isabel, Ari, Malone, Elliette, Wylder, and Hartwell, along with numerous extended family and friends.

The family would like to thank the incredible staff at St. Anthony Park Home and the many health care professionals who demonstrated great care for Deb throughout her life. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Anthony Park Home or Special Olympics.

A private memorial service will be held to celebrate Deb’s life.

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