Ed Hunsaker said goodbye to many in person, or on the phone, the night before he passed away of heart failure at the UCLA Medical Center on November 29, 2021, at the age of 68. His passing was heart-wrenching to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents E. Sterling and Karla Hill Hunsaker. He is survived by his daughter Brittanie Marie Cebulak CA, his grandson Brayden Blue Casillas CA, his brother David (Donna) Hunsaker MI, his brother Phillip (Jodie) Hunsaker UT, and his brother Jonathan (Michelle) Hunsaker UT.
ED’s LIFE SKETCH
Edwin Sterling Hunsaker II was adopted on the day of his birth, January 3, 1953, in Glendale, California. Ed’s home would be in Newhall, California. After years of waiting, Karla Hunsaker was thrilled to be his mother. They had a strong mother and son bond for the rest of their lives. Ed was named after his adopted father, E. Sterling Hunsaker. Sterling felt that the chemicals he was exposed to during WWII had contributed to the long seven years of waiting for children to come into their lives. He was proud to finally have a son.
Three days later, the happy parents went on a road trip to show off their new baby. While traveling, they found their next son. Six-year-old David was at the home of a friend, who lived near San Fernando, CA. After Sterling inquired, and learned he was available for adoption, David was asked to pack his bag, and they all headed out as a family. Mom and Dad have always felt that these boys were just as much their sons as if they had been born to them. The extended families were thrilled to welcome these boys into the family.
Ed was blessed by his father in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later, he was sealed to his new parents in the St. George, Utah Temple.
The family left California in 1956. Ed’s aging grandparents on his dad’s side were moved into town. Then, Ed’s family moved onto his grandparent's farm in Afton, Wyoming, situated in beautiful Star Valley. After a year, Sterling added the figures and realized he was paying out more than he was earning. So, the farm life would have to be left behind.
It was 1958 when the family moved into a trailer in Moab, Utah. Here, Ed would start school as a kindergartner at the Helen M. Knight Elementary School. The family would live here for three years in a trailer while Sterling mined uranium, plus owned and operated a television repair. In 1959, a brother Phillip was born. In 1961, another brother Jonathan joined the family.
A move in 1961 to Tooele, Utah, would last less than a year. He attended part of his 3rd grade at Tooele Central School. A family home would be found in Kearns, Utah that same year where he would attend David Gourley Elementary. Ed had many fond memories here. During his growing up years, his dad ran a service station, built Sterling Craft boats, was a salesman for Commercial Trades Institute, and was a Field Rep. for Jetma.
At the same time, the pull of California beaches always called out to them. For many summers, Sterling arranged to work as a hotel handyman a couple of blocks from the beach. The boys surfed all summer.
Ed loved swimming. It seemed like he was more comfortable in the water than out. Ed joined the freestyle relay team at Kearns High. His relay team took second place in the state in November 1967. In another meet between Bountiful, East Carbon, and Kearns on November 27, 1968, the newspaper reported “…the freestyle team of Ed Hunsaker and Ron Wickman pulled it out at the last minute for a win. The final score was Kearns 80, Bountiful 77, and East Carbon 5.”
On May 28, 1971, he graduated from Kearns High School. Ed was awarded a University of California scholarship. Additionally, he was awarded a four-year Alabama State University scholarship. It would have been $4,500 a year.
In 1969, he was part of the Boy Scouts Explorer Post 226 of Kearns, again on their freestyle team. The Explorer Olympics paralleled the Olympics in their events, which included swimming. Ed’s Post took the Western Regional Championship in the winter of 1969. Ed being amongst the winners of the Regional Scout Olympics, qualified him to compete in the National Explorer Olympics. Just like the Olympics, “Their events opened with a parade of participants and torch-carrying runners (NY Times).” In 1972, his family was thrilled when he, and his relay team, became silver medalists in the 400-meter race at the first National Explorer Olympics held at Fort Collins, Colorado. The entire swim and dive team came in third in the final standings.
In 1971, Ed continued to win additional swim honors and medals. Ed joined the Kearns Youth Aquatic Team. This group of swimmers won the fourth annual Kearns Holiday Open Swimming and Diving Meet. This event had more than five hundred swimmers. They came from seven western states to compete. Additionally, in 1972, Ed was a water safety instructor for the Red Cross in the Salt Lake area.
Ed would go on to attend the University of Utah and earn his BS as well as one year of his MBA. It was his mom who had set the example as she attended U of U during Ed’s teenage years. She graduated in 1972 and became an elementary school teacher.
On Christmas Eve in 1972, Ed received the Melchizedek Priesthood. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was important to him.
From a young age, Ed was very politically active. Eventually, he started a campaign button collection, displaying them on a poncho that he hung on the wall. He helped out at campaign headquarters. Ed attended the 1972 Republican Convention. Then, he went to the Nixon 1972 Inaugural Invitation. In 1974, as a U of U student, he was part of the Hinckley Internship during the Wayne Owens for State campaign. Years later, he worked with a key U.S. Congressman, and he recalled how he “learned the art of getting things done on the inside.” This knowledge would drive his community involvement throughout his life. Later, the Democratic Party would hold his interest.
Ed modeled and did commercials during the ‘70s which helped pay for college. He modeled for ZCMI, Fifth Ave., White Stag, Cevas, and many other companies throughout the United States. His modeling and commercials gave him residual pay that helped support his other adventures.
Ed met another model, Francis Leary, during his modeling career. They dated in the late ’70s. Brittanie Marie Cebulak, their daughter, was born on February 17, 1980. Like both of her parents, Britt too has modeled. Since 1998, she has acted in many films and movies. Remarkably, she too has a gift for writing. On November 3, 2010, Ed’s grandson Brayden Blue Casillas was born. Brittanie's son, now age 11, is currently a news reporter for Nickelodeon where he gives a short report once a month. Ed’s entertainment legacy will live on through them.
He left for Los Angeles, California to become an actor. In March of 1973, Ed signed a one-year television motion picture artists’ manager contract with the Nina Blanchard Agency. At that same time, he signed on as part of the Screen Actors Guild. With this move, Ed had put college life behind him. In 1978, Ed played Tommy in a BYU Production called Uncle Ben.
Then, Paramount Pictures hired him as a writer. For years, Ed was always working on something or co-writing with someone. In 1988, he was both a writer and a co-producer on the MGM made for TV film “Moving Target”. Later, he wrote scripts and was a line producer for the T.V. series America P.I. In 1997, he was a second unit director for one episode of the T.V. series High Tide. In 2009, Ed was a line producer for Room 33. Additionally, he was a project manager/budget analyst within the film industry.
It was 1985 when Ed first moved into his current apartment, in Santa Monica. He belonged to the Santa Monica Democratic Club. Ed loved being involved in his neighborhoods and communities in both Utah and California. He was very active in Santa Monica airport, as part of it was changed into a park. Furthermore, Ed was part of the Angels Chapter Sierra Club. He was a Wilmont Board Member. In 2020, Ed was still a board member for the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition. Ed was on the steering committee for the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights or SMRR. He served five years in this position. Additionally, he helped with their Tenant Hotline.
We remember our brother as a world citizen who loved to travel. Once in the 1980s, he traveled to Beirut during civil unrest. His mom was horrified, but Ed assured her that he was fine. He viewed it as just another adventure to dodge bullets in the streets of Beirut.
Ed loved heading out to backpacking, skiing, or rock climbing. He did these activities all over. Ed's favorite places included the Tetons, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and Yosemite National Park. He fought to protect our back county. In his bid to help, Ed ran as a candidate for West Los Angeles Group Executive Committee. During that campaign, he called attention to some of these efforts. Ed “fought to protect the Lone Peak Wilderness Area, Little Cottonwood from snowbird, Kaiparowits Plateau. He patrolled Grand Gulch, Montezuma Creek, and Canyonlands. He built wildlife watering stations and people trails. He helped design Organic System Plans to meet USDA/European standards for farm to retail.”
Ed began having a series of health issues after an emergency esophagectomy and esophagostomy in 2007. He would have to give up his love of climbing. Blood clots began developing in his legs. Then, a series of heart attacks followed.
Thankfully, he was still able to work. He served as treasurer for Kenia Farms Ltd. Later on, he served as a principal for Kenia Commodities LLC.
For the last five years, Ed has worked as director of operations for Globe Productions. This company makes custom branded merchandise.
Ed loved his heritage, both biological and through his adoption. Biologically, he was one-quarter Cherokee as well as Scottish. Karla loved getting him gifts of rugs and pottery to remind him of his heritage. Eventually, Ed learned he was also Scottish through his adopted parents which started his love of the Highland Games festivals. He would take mom to them when he could. One Christmas, Ed convinced his brothers to invest in some beautiful Scottish goblets with a thistle design for their mom. His time on his Grandpa Allen Hunsaker’s farm became ingrained in his very makeup. The outdoors was his favorite place to be. Ed’s maternal grandpa Frank Hill’s sheep ranch, inspired many gifts for Karla as well, like a rustic quilt made from sheep’s wool sewn from many different colored patches. Recently, Ed had his grandpa’s Box Bar Ranch brand embossed on canvas tote bags to give away as gifts. His apartment spoke of his heritage. The walls and décor revealed his Native American heritage. Additionally, there are reminders of his grandparent’s countryside living, which comforted him. He wasn’t connected to these items per se, as much as he was connected to the people he shared this heritage with. Let us all remember that we are forever connected to Ed. He cherished his family and his friends. Once you became a friend to Ed, you were always a friend. His physical body is gone, but his spirit will continue to linger near us.
I consider Ed a dear friend! Even though he had health problems of his own, he didn't let anything keep him down for long. He was so kind to me in 2008 after my heart surgery, as my anonymous guardian angel! Sent me several packages, including a Santa Monica Life guard T- shirt, and music CD's he had thoughtfully recorded. I learned he was a very private person...but we had tons to talk about. He shared many stories about working w my Uncle, Wayne Owens. Ed was a trusted source of support and shared common values with Wayne Owens throughout his life.
Vicki Huff Christiansen
I became very good friends with Ed at Kearns Junior High. We had many classes together where we also had a great time. We were both on the Kearns Aquatic Team. He was built for the butterfly and breaststroke although he loved freestyle. We had some great times at swimming meets. When I went through my divorce in 1974 he and Dug Barnett came to see how I was doing. Their council to me was that I needed to find myself a return missionary and marry him. The following year I did just that. We ran into Ed at Valley Fair Mall dressed in his fire fighting gear. I introduced him to my new husband David Christiansen who had served in the Mexico City mission. He congratulated us and told us how he had been fighting fires in the mountains. That was the last time I ever saw Ed. He taught me so much and I have always loved him. He will surely be missed.
I am heartbroken to read this. I wondered why I hadn’t heard back on the text I sent him for his birthday and am saddened that a year had passed between us without connecting. Ed was important and special to me. One of the most genuine people I’ve ever known with a heart as big as the sky. Clever, kind, sincere and funny. A bright, shining light has gone out. Ed will have a piece of my heart always…
After so many years wondering about Ed I am also heartbroken to read about Ed's passing. He was a great friend, humanitarian with a good sense of humour but mainly a very protective and lovely person. Santa Monica won' t be the same. I was planning to go and visit him this year. So sad. All my love and gratitude forever. God Bless.
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