Carolyn Nadine (Pulliam) Sundermeier
March 18, 1943 – December 16, 2021
Survived by her husband of 60 years, Donald E. Sundermeier; their children, Elizabeth A. Arneson (Steve), Todd E. Sundermeier (Daniele); 4 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren.
Visitation: Friday, January 7th from 4:30pm to 6:30pm followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 6:30pm, all at West Center Chapel. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Saturday, January 8th at 10am at St. Cecilia Cathedral, 701 N. 40th Street. Interment: Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery.
Carolyn Nadine Sundermeier was born on March 18, 1943, in Chillicothe, Missouri, and born into eternal life on December 16, 2021, in Omaha, Nebraska. She spent her life as a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and her powerful influence echoes across multiple families and generations.
From an early age, Carolyn demonstrated a deep faith and iron will. Drawn to the Catholicism of her family’s governess, she asked her father to become Catholic herself. He replied that Carolyn would need to convince everyone in the family to convert, including himself, if she wanted to become Catholic. So she did.
She came to Omaha on a piano scholarship, and soon met Don at a dance in the Omaha Livestock Exchange Building in 1961. They were married in 1962. Carolyn started working full-time while raising two kids and running the household.
She became a devoted employee of the Communication Workers of America Union, giving 37 years of service. Alongside Don, a member of the Painters’ Union, the two understood the promise of organized labor and the great gains possible through collective sacrifice. They endured occasional labor strikes that would have left their family hungry were it not for her prudent household management and frugal ingenuity: clipping coupons, tracking deals at grocery stores, keeping several months’ worth of meals frozen in the basement “just in case,” and sometimes omitting ingredients deemed too extravagant (for instance, capers).
Taking after her own father who ran a cafe in Chillicothe, Carolyn was a talented cook. Her secret family recipe for holiday ham was so good—and the secrecy so well-guarded—that one guest tried a novel method of getting her to share the ingredient list: she “accidentally” spilled some of the ham on her sweater. She proceeded to ask Carolyn what was in the recipe, so she “could figure out how to treat the stain.” Unfazed by the ploy, Carolyn warmly insisted that her guest not worry about it, as she would take care of the stain herself. Recipe secrecy aside, Carolyn was a consummate host. She developed a fun tradition each holiday of picking one member of the family who would get to use the famous and unique red plate that read, “I am special!” It became an occasion to toast the selected person’s special achievements, or salute their perseverance through a struggle, or welcome newcomers to the family.
After retiring in 2000, Carolyn was finally free to devote all of her time to her biggest hobby: supporting her grandchildren. Before her health began failing, she could always be spotted on the sidelines and in the stands at dance recitals, soccer games, swim meets, concerts, graduations, and everything in between. Carolyn read the newspaper daily, with a pair of scissors in hand—stories, recipes, and photos she found interesting were clipped and sorted into individually labeled packets for each grandchild. Every few months she would mail these clippings, often with little notes in the margins or affixed by paperclip. Her affection was generous and readily spilled over into the lives of her grandkids’ significant others, who quickly appreciated receiving their own sets of clippings, and seeing her at their own events. It was Carolyn’s prodding and encouragement that empowered one of these boyfriends to propose to one of her granddaughters—she even provided the ring! She made it a habit to call grandchildren to recommend sales she’d found, to inform them of product recalls (everyone is convinced they’d have gotten salmonella from bad lettuce if it weren’t for Grandma), and just to say she loved them.
Carolyn did not like to be the center of attention, but she loved sharing meaningful moments with those closest to her. Carolyn’s social circle rarely extended beyond her family, all of whom were dear to her. She was most at home in the arms of her husband of 60 years: her tireless advocate and self-proclaimed bodyguard, Don. Carolyn enjoyed her quiet moments of solitude, often in the middle of the night, but she cherished long conversations with her eight siblings, two children, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Those of us who remain will miss her earthly presence, even as we now rely on her spiritual presence for the love and support only Carolyn can provide.
Preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Francine Pulliam; brothers, John and Robert “Bob”. She is survived by sister, Mary Gregory (Butch); sister-in-law, Marti Pulliam; brothers: Rick Pulliam (Penny), David Pulliam (Lesa), Mark Pulliam (Audra), Greg Pulliam, and Paul Pulliam (Louie); numerous nieces and nephews; daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Steve Arneson; son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Dani Sundermeier; grandchildren: Alexis Mullaney (TJ), Benjamin Arneson, Morgan Hynek (Justin), Zoe Sundermeier; great-grandchildren: Grant, Avery, and Leia Arneson; Carolyn and Gregory Mullaney; Olivia and Phoebe Hynek.