Tracie Marie Gunderson
Tracie Marie Gunderson, 34, died on September 6th, 2017, from an aortic artery aneurism, in Santa Barbara, California.
Tracie was born on January 15th, 1983, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Tracie was home-schooled for ten years through the Blessed Assurance Academy, where she maxed all of her standardized tests and acquired a love for learning that continued on throughout her life. Following that, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Studies and Psychology from Saint Cloud State University in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where she received the John Melton Scholarship Award and, in recognition of her outstanding academic achievement, was awarded the Dean’s List from the Fall of 2002-2007, consecutively. In 2012, Tracie received her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara. She was a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern and had recently completed her hours for licensure.
A passionate and dedicated advocate for veterans, Tracie worked for the last four years as an outreach worker and case manager; and finally as the Veteran Services Coordinator for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program at New Beginnings Counseling Center, where she helped to house over 250 veterans. As a part of her work at New Beginnings, Tracie also served as a Court Provider Liaison to the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) which serve the justice-involved veteran population. In her work with the VTC through a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy-informed psychoeducational group, Tracie helped countless veterans to participate in the treatment court process with their fellow veterans, re-instilling the sense of camaraderie they felt while in the military. Tracie was often lauded by veterans who attended the group, citing her ability to understand their experience and give them information that they could apply to their lives and that made sense to them.
Tracie was also a part of the VetNet Advisory Board, helping to guide the collaboration from its inception. During her service on the board, she was an invaluable resource to many service organizations that were looking for strategies and resources to serve their own veteran clients. Tracie brought her warm smile, willing and open heart, and tireless efforts to ensure that anyone she could help received her help and more – they got her love. She will be missed but never forgotten by the members of VetNet.
During her tenure at New Beginnings, Tracie had been given much recognition for her work and received several major awards, including the Shining Star for her extraordinary dedication and service to the veterans of Santa Barbara County, and the Military Order of the World Wars Silver Patrick Henry Medallion for her patriotic achievement and service to the community. The Silver Patrick Henry Medallion is one of the highest military honors a civilian can receive for outstanding contributions to patriotism.
Tracie’s sense of compassion and justice extended to everyone. Prior New Beginnings, she worked in the community with Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, the Mental Wellness Center, and Simpler Systems. A tireless advocate for those less fortunate, Tracie also volunteered with the Carpinteria Unified School District, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, and Catholic Charities.
Tracie had a generous heart and an infectious enthusiasm for every task she engaged in and every person she helped. Her commitment and tenacity were rare, and her energy boundless. When not tabling a community event on weekends and holidays, Tracie loved to dance, spend time with her friends at Mel’s Lounge, go wine tasting in the funk zone, and show off her moves at the ice rink. She was a connoisseur of coffee and all things gluten free. She found beauty in the film LaLaLand and had seen the film over a dozen times. She loved watching Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and Once Upon a Time and had recently finished re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. The windows were always down and her music was always blasting in her Volkswagen bug named Lazzy. Her life was set to a soundtrack of David Bowie, Train, Prince, and John Lennon tunes – when Tracie loved something, she loved it passionately. Tracie also had a soft spot for animals, making sure that every cat and dog she encountered had a safe home. She adored her Chihuahua, Captain Valentine, who was always by her side. She found peace at the beach and was always up for an adventure and the opportunity to laugh. She was an incredible and unequaled talent in our community, a respected colleague, and a loyal friend to many. She will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Tracie is survived by her mom and dad, Grant and Teresa Fogle, her rescue doggie Captain Valentine, and the many friends, colleagues and veterans throughout Santa Barbara County who loved her and whose lives she touched immeasurably. Her parents love and miss Tracie very much, and love and appreciate everyone in her life. They wish to especially thank the EMT’s who came to her aid at the time of her death.
A community memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 2:00pm at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, located at 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, California.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, 1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 1-334, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.