Carl Finstrom, 79, awarded the Order of the Polar Star Citation from the king of Sweden, 1991

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Carl Finstrom
Carl Finstrom

Carl Finstrom, a resident of Williamsburg since 1991, died Oct. 18, 2015, following a long struggle bravely waged with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was 79.

His unfailing good humor and positive attitude was noted by all the medical personnel who cared for him during his illness.

Carl, the only son of Christiana and Carl Gustav Finstrom Sr., was born in Illinois in 1936 and grew up in the Chicago area. He attended elementary and high schools in Chicago and graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, minoring in geology.

He earned several postgraduate degrees, including a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate college in California and the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Carl joined Army ROTC in high school, continued in college and went on to serve as a regular Army officer beginning in 1961. Among other commendations awarded during his more than 30 years active federal service were the Army Commendation Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and was awarded the Order of the Polar Star Citation from King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden in 1991.

Carl served in many locations, including multiple assignments in Western Europe, the continental U.S., Japan and Vietnam.

Upon Carl’s retirement from the Army, he moved to Williamsburg and became president of the Williamsburg Stamp Society and chairman of the Christopher Wren Association of the College of William & Mary. A scholar at heart, Carl enjoyed being a lecturer on more than 25 different subjects in the association’s offerings.

Carl was also a member of the Eighth Air Force Association, the Civil War Roundtable, the Sons of Norway, Nordmanns Forbundet, the U.S. Post Office Advisory Council, the Swedish American Studies Society, the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and the OSS Society.

Carl is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 56 years, Joanne; beloved daughters, Lisa Finstrom and Julia (Jeff) Salzwedel; and brother-in-law, Carl William Jensen Jr. He is affectionately remembered as “Morfar” by his granddaughters, Mary (Eric) Roelofs and Emily Salzwedel and grandsons, Carl and Eric Sanford. His great-granddaughters, Abigail and Hailey Roelofs, knew him as “Oldefar.” He is also survived by several nieces and nephews and numerous relatives and friends all over the world.

Carl was preceded in death by his son, Carl Erik Finstrom; sister, Grace Sandberg; and sister-in-law, Marilyn Houlberg.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, at Hickory Neck Episcopal Church in Toano. A celebration of Carl’s life will be held later that day from 6 to 8 p.m. at Nelsen Funeral Home for viewing and visitation. Col. Carl Finstrom will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Memorials in Carl’s honor may be made to Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, The College of William and Mary for the Christopher Wren Association or Hospice House of Williamsburg.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.

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