Obituary:Kenneth Matts Goran Esselstrom (July 2, 1953 – Oct. 29, 2012)

By Submitted November 15, 2012 10:11 am

Kenneth Esselstrom, 59, died unexpectedly on October 29, 2012, in Crescent City. He was born on July 2, 1953, in Jakobstad, Finland, and emigrated with his parents and brother to the United States in 1955. The family moved from Grants Pass, Ore., to Crescent City in 1958, where he attended local schools studying art, woodworking, and drafting. He continued his education at Shasta Junior College in Redding, Calif.

Ken worked at Lund’s Plywood Mill as a teenager, and learned carpentry skills from his father, Goran, who built five of the family homes, and worked for many years in the building industry.

Ken was a general building contractor for 38 years and built many custom homes in Del Norte County. He also worked on large construction projects such as the Redwood National Parks headquarters and the Cultural Center.

He married Ardette Sveum in 1979, and they moved to the Bay Area in the early 1980s. He continued his building career in the Redwood City, Woodside, Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto areas. He was known for his fine woodworking skills and design expertise. He was a creative, artistic, master craftsman, and designed many of the projects he built for himself as well as others. Influenced by his Scandinavian heritage, Ken was passionate about modern architecture.

Ardette and Ken moved back to Crescent City in 2003, where they still had property, family and friends, and he continued building in the area.

He was predeceased by his mother, May-Lis Esselstrom, and brother-in-law, Ted Sveum.

Ken is survived by his wife of 33 years, Ardette Sveum Esselstrom; father, Goran Esselstrom; brother, Tom Esselstrom (Ellie); sister, Janise Esselstrom Owens (Jim Shattuck); all of Folsom, Calif.; Ardette’s parents, Ardean and Ruth Sveum of Crescent City; sister-in-law, Karen Sveum Greenly of Santa Rosa, Calif.; brother-in-law, Eric Sveum (Lori) of Redwood City, Calif., and brother-in-law Mikkal Sveum (Handzia) of Sydney, Australia. Also surviving are six nephews, James, Erik, Drew, Bryan, Aleks, Jon; three nieces, Sonja, Claire and Jenna; one great-nephew; two great-nieces and numerous relatives in Finland.

Ken was a generous, kind, funny, talented man who will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, November 17, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ocean Front Lodge (formerly the Hampton Inn), 100  A  St., Crescent City, CA.

Please sign the family’s online guestbook at

Arrangements are under the direction of Wier’s Mortuary Chapel.

— Submitted by Wier’s Mortuary Chapel