Wilbur (Spike) Antone Gunderson – The Santa Barbara Independent


Spike’s signature smile, infectious laugh, and wing-spanning 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 it. Wilbur – playfully nicknamed “Spike” by his father at the age of four – lived up to his character – he was the younger of the two sons.

In early 1948, encouraged by the pediatrician to take their boys to a warmer climate, Spike’s parents planned their migration along the west coast. They were delighted to discover Santa Barbara, a small and quiet town but a culturally rich beach town steeped in history. Before the end of the year they had made it their home.

Spike attended Harding Elementary School and La Cumbre Junior High and graduated from Santa Barbara High in 1962. Growing up in Santa Barbara offered Spike and his friends a scope all their own. A childhood that leaves behind many stories reminiscent of Tom Sawyer and, to this day, are best told by the brothers and sisters who shared them with him.

Growing up as a Westside kid brought Spike and his friends closer to Hendry’s and Ledbetter Beach. She piled into Violet’s Corvair with a friend or two and took them to the beach for the afternoon. During Spike’s adolescence, his introduction to surfing ignited a spark in him, and the old canvas rafts immediately gave way to this new sport.

Surfing offered him solace at a time when his father, Wilbur Sr., died at the age of 44 after a short illness. Spike was only 17 at the time and the loss of his father had a profound impact on him. Throughout his life, Spike spoke glowingly of the memories and wisdom they shared over the years.

Shortly after high school, he left with a friend to sail to the Bahamas for six months. Spike and his pal had so much lobster to the point that they wouldn’t feast on another for many years. Upon his return to SB, he began training as a tinsmith at SB City College. He married his first wife, Linda Bowman, in 1965. Within a few years, they were happily raising their two daughters, Staci and Jenny.

The Channel Islands kept the adventure alive for Spike. In early 1977 he teamed up with a good friend to have a 24 foot Radon built and they named it the “Escape”. Weather permitting, the Channel Islands became their weekend entertainment for diving, fishing and some more fishing. Many sea stories from those years are fondly remembered.

As Spike gained experience in his craft, so did his thirst to grow at it. He worked for RP Richards into the early 80’s while beginning the licensing process to become a general contractor. In 1983 the family business Channel Islands Construction was founded. His niche and long successful career began and lasted until 2017. Spike has always been known as ethical, loyal and a man of his word.

Golf was another lifelong activity he loved. He played weekly with childhood friends at local golf courses. Spike recorded a hole-in-one at #6 at Sandpiper GC at the age of 75! He achieved this while being challenged with progressive dementia. His spirit for the game and the competition has never wavered.

Spike shared 28 devoted years with his second wife Susie. They married in the Hawaiian Islands in 2003 surrounded by family. During their years together, outdoor adventures from the tip of the Pacific Northwest down to the beautiful Sea of ​​Cortez in Baja Sur have created fond memories.

Spike would be the first to share what a wonderful life he’d led. His huge, warm smile that accompanied his sharp sense of humor is remembered by all who knew him. Spike adored his family, friends and especially his wife Susie. The level of love, support, compassion and comfort she offered him was lifelong and never more evident than during his final phase of illness. Susie felt honored to be by Spike’s side as he died peacefully.

A Celebration of Life will be held on October 8th at Tuckers Grove, Area 5 from 12pm to 4pm. Please reply to [email protected]


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