Alvin R. Sunseri

History Faculty
Alvin R. Sunseri, 80, of Eugene, Oregon, formerly of Cedar Falls, died Sunday, February 5, 2006, of natural causes. He was born February 11, 1925, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Anthony Joseph and Elizabeth Weiser Sunseri, who preceded him in death, as did his only sister, Gloria McDuffie. He left high school during World War II to serve in the Army Air Corps (1943-1946) after which he completed high school at St. Paul's School in Covington, Louisiana. He served in the Army Reserves while attending college at Louisiana State University and Southeastern Louisiana University. In 1949 he re-enlisted in the Army and served in the European Theater as Detachment Commander at Enns, Austria, until 1952. On December 9, 1952, he married Elaine T. Zerwas at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C. After completing a B.A. in social studies (SLU, 1955), he began his career as a history teacher at St. Paul's School (1954-1956). In addition, he coached track and led the debate team to a state championship in 1956. Alvin and Elaine's first three children (Gina, Leandra, and Anthony) were born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while he taught and worked toward an M.A. in history from LSU. After completing his M.A., he accepted a position in Roswell at the New Mexico Military Institute (1956-1959), where his track team set thirteen school records. In Roswell, Alvin and Elaine's three youngest children (Thaddeus, Jennifer, and Janice) were born. Alvin subsequently served as a professor of history at St. Michael's College in Santa Fe (1959-1961) and New Mexico Highlands University (1961-1963) before returning to LSU for doctoral studies (1963-1965). He then taught at Western State Colorado (1965-1967) before accepting a position at the University of Northern Iowa. In 1973, while an assistant professor at Northern Iowa, he earned his Ph.D. in history from LSU. In 1988, he retired at the rank of full professor, yet continued teaching, first at the College of Santa Fe (formerly St. Michael's College) and then at his alma mater, SLU. He was a guest teacher and popular lecturer at many Iowa colleges and organizations, a prolific writer, and a founder of Citizens for Peace. In particular he raised awareness of significant, yet previously neglected figures in Iowa history, such as the Sullivan Brothers and Iowa historian Carl Becker. He was married to Linda Petersen from 1978 to 1996. He spent his final decade with his family, most recently in Eugene. Alvin is survived by Elaine Sunseri of Eugene and their six children: Gina Treadgold of Thompsons, Texas, Leandra Sunseri of Cedar Falls, Anthony Sunseri of Eugene, Dr. Thaddeus Sunseri of Fort Collins, Colorado, Dr. Jennifer Sunseri of Lubbock, Texas, and Janice Sunseri of Eugene. He is also survived by his devoted niece, Elizabeth McDuffie of Pasadena, California, and six grandchildren: Sam and Emily Treadgold of Texas and Kenneth McCormick, Schonchin, Terrance, and Winona Sunseri of Oregon. Services were held at Our Lady of the Nativity in Springfield, Oregon, on February 8, 2006, followed by burial on February 9 in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Memorials can be sent to the Alvin R. Sunseri Memorial Fund, UNI Foundation, 205 Commons, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0282. Copyright Waterloo Courier, February 12, 2006, Page B8.