Wilbur (Spike) Antone Gunderson

Date of Birth

April 20, 1944

Date of Death

June 20, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Spike’s signature smile, infectious laugh and wing-spanned gestures will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Spike was born in Portland Oregon. His parents, Wilbur Antone Sr. and Violet Marie Gunderson were native Portlanders, and proud of that fact. Wilbur – who was given the playful nickname “Spike” at the age of four by his father, lived up to every letter of it in his character – he was the younger of their two boys.

In early 1948, Spike’s parents were encouraged by the children’s physician to move their boys to a warmer climate and planned their trek down the West coast. They were pleased to discover Santa Barbara, a small & quiet town, but a culturally rich beach town steeped in history. Before the year’s end, they had made it their home.

Spike attended Harding Elementary School and La Cumbre Junior High, then graduated from Santa Barbara High in 1962. Growing up in Santa Barbara offered latitude of its own kind to Spike and his friends. A childhood that leaves many stories reminiscent of Tom Sawyer, and to this day, told best by those brothers and sisters who shared it with him.

Growing up a Westside kid, put Spike and his friends in closer proximity to Hendry’s and Ledbetter Beach. Piling into Violet’s Corvair with a friend or two, she’d shuttle them to the beach for the afternoon. During Spike’s adolescence, his introduction to surfing lit a spark inside him, and immediately the ol’ canvas rafts gave way to this new sport.

Surfing offered him solace at a time when his father, Wilbur Sr., passed from a short illness at the age of 44. Spike was only 17 at this time and losing his father had a profound effect on him. Throughout his life, Spike talked glowingly of the memories and wisdoms in those years they shared together.

Soon after high school graduation, he left with a friend to sail the Bahamas for six months. Spike and his buddy had their fill of lobster to the point where neither feasted on another one for many years. Upon his return to SB, he started an apprenticeship trades program for sheet metal at SB City College. He married his first wife, Linda Bowman, in 1965. Within several years they were happily raising their two daughters, Staci and Jenny.

The Channel Islands kept adventure alive for Spike. Early 1977, he partnered with a good friend to have a 24ft Radon built and they named her the “Escape”. Weather permitting, the Channel Islands became their weekend entertainment to dive, fish and fish some more. Many ocean tales from those years are fondly remembered.

While Spike gained experience in his trade, so did his thirst to grow in it. He worked for R.P. Richards into the early 80’s while starting the licensing process to become a general contractor. By 1983, the family owned business, Channel Islands Construction was founded. His niche and a long successful career began and continued till 2017. Spike was always known to be ethical, loyal and a man of his word.

Golf was another life long activity that he loved. He played weekly with childhood friends at local courses. Spike recorded a hole in one on #6 at Sandpiper GC at the age of 75! He accomplished this while challenged with advancing dementia. His spirit for the game and competition never wavered.

Spike shared 28 devoted years with his second wife, Susie. They were married in 2003 in the Hawaiian islands encircled by family. Throughout their years together, outdoor adventures from the top of the Pacific NW down to the beautiful Sea of Cortez in Baja Sur created heartfelt memories.

Spike would be the first to share what a wonderful life he lived. His huge, warm smile that accompanied his sharp sense of humor is remembered by all who knew him. Spike adored his family, his friends and especially his wife Susie. The level of love, support, compassion and comfort she provided him was life long and never more evident than during his latter stage of illness. Susie was honored to be by Spike’s side when he passed peacefully.

A Celebration of Life will be held on October 8th at Tuckers Grove, Area 5, from noon till 4pm. Please RSVP to SpikeAG77@gmail.com


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