By A.J. Rao
(Courtesy the Post Journal, published April 29, 2017)
Bob Sundell spent a lifetime cherishing the environment — now, the environment is returning the favor.
On Friday, two Robin Hill Serviceberry trees were planted outside the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in memory of Sundell, a JCC professor and local giant in the fields of biology, ornithology and conservation, who passed away February at the age of 84.
Sundell, a Jamestown native, was a founding member of the Jamestown Audubon Society, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Ornithological Club of the RTPI. He also served for many years as chairman of the Jamestown Parks, Recreation and Conservation Commission and as a member of the Chautauqua County Environment Management Council.
Mayor Sam Teresi joined Sundell’s widow, Pat, as well as members of the city’s parks committee and RTPI board of directors Friday — which just happened to be Arbor Day in New York state — for a ceremonial tree planting.
“About 40 years ago, I had the opportunity to meet somebody who I came to know as a great man, who I idolized and considered a dear, personal friend,” Teresi said.
“I was a young kid of about 17 years old when Mayor (Steven) Carlson appointed me to the city’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Commission … and Bob Sundell was already an institution there.”
Dan Stone, city arborist, also spoke highly about Sandell, describing the longtime Parks Commission chairman as a “true jewel” to the city of Jamestown and the entire community.
“For the past eight years, I had the privilege of working with Bob and calling him my friend,” Stone said. “He went out of his way and really welcomed me when I came into this position. He was always supportive, concerned and inquisitive about our actions, desires and everything we were doing to improve our beautiful parks system.”
Pat Sundell said she was honored by the planting and remarked it was appropriate for the trees to be at RTPI since her husband was good friends with the founder.
Twan Leenders, president of RTPI, said he couldn’t be happier with the new trees and the fitting tribute to Sundell.
“Bob could always brighten up a room,” he said. “If these trees have any bit of Bob’s magic, they will be the place all the cool birds want to be.”
Sundell was a 1950 graduate of Jamestown High School and received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Allegheny College and a Master’s degree in wildlife biology from Michigan State University. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 1957- 59.
Bob taught biology and environmental science at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Ill., Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah and West Georgia College, Carrollton, Ga., before returning to complete his formal teaching career at Jamestown Community College.