Obituary of Gunilla Mungan
October 5, 1939 - Uppsala, Sweden
November 1, 2023 - Calgary, Alberta
Gunilla Mungan died on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 in Calgary, AB aged 84, from complications of Alzheimer’s.
She was born nearly two months premature on October 5, 1939, in Uppsala, Sweden, an accidental pregnancy to high school sweethearts. She never got over her resulting sense of being unwanted, expressed in a lifelong stammer. However, in 1958 she went to the University of Texas at Austin on a Fulbright scholarship, and met the love of her life: Necmettin Mungan, born to an Arabic family on Turkey’s Syrian border, then finishing his PhD in petroleum engineering. Their parents on both sides were appalled, and Gunilla returned to Sweden – writing to her Necmi twice a day for the next three years till they finally married in Sweden in 1962.
Gunilla arrived in Calgary from Tulsa in January 1967 when Necmi was invited to set up the Petroleum Recovery Institute at the University of Calgary. Meanwhile, Gunilla, pregnant with her third child, helped found what eventually became the Calgary Birth Control Association. She also edited the Calgary Women’s Newspaper, taught English literature at Mount Royal College, and then in her 40s took a law degree at the University of Calgary to work, still better for women and children. Still, she read to her children every night, from Paddington to Pippi Longstocking.
Later in life, she served as Swedish consul for Southern Alberta from 1993 to 2010. She also travelled with her husband as often as she could join his work trips, including China in 1974 (where she made a point of visiting daycares and women’s groups) and Libya in 1985 (where she was arrested for photographing PLO headquarters). She also hoarded frequent flyer points from grocery shopping to assist at the births of all eight of her grandchildren.
Necmi survives her, reluctantly, in Calgary. She is also mourned by her son Carl, his Malaysian wife Peckbee Lim, and their two children, Evan and Annabel (in Annapolis, Maryland); her daughter Christina, with British husband Richard McCarthy, and their two sons, Hugh and Jack (in London, UK); her son Nils, his Argentinian wife Beatriz Ramallo, and their four children, Nicholas, Victoria, Charles, and Alexander (in Jackson, Mississippi); and her daughter, Tanya, who visited her every other day in her nursing home for seven years (in Calgary).
Funeral Services will be held at a later date. Details of the memorial service to be announced in the future. Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Gunilla’s family here.
In living memory of Gunilla Mungan, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.