Christopher D. Suntum, a civil engineering designer who enjoyed gardening, died of a brain tumor June 11 at his Columbia home. He was 57.
Mr. Suntum was born in Denver and raised in Takoma Park. He was a 1969 graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1975.
After graduating from Maryland, Mr. Suntum hitchhiked across the country, stopping along the way to visit family and friends.
It was during this trip that he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains, which became a favorite lifelong destination, family members said.
After returning to Maryland, Mr. Suntum graduated from the Maryland Drafting Institute in Hyattsville.
Mr. Suntum worked for A. Morton Thomas & Associates Inc. in Rockville, and Kamber Engineering in Gaithersburg, before joining Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, a Baltimore civil engineering firm, in 1998.
"He was one of our senior designers and worked on site engineering projects. These projects would be for grading, utilities and roadways," said John A. d'Epagnier, a firm associate and engineer.
"We do a lot of urban area and health care projects. Chris was being treated at Hopkins Hospital near projects he had worked on," Mr. d'Epagnier said.
"He was a quiet and hardworking guy. No matter what I gave him to do, he never complained and got it done," he said.
Mr. Suntum also worked closely with Chris D. Krupinski, a project manager, at the Mount Royal Avenue engineering firm.
Mr. Krupinski said he worked with Mr. Suntum on the South Germantown Recreational Park, which also included the SoccerPlex in Montgomery County; a project at Hopkins Hospital that included a large parking garage; and the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington.
"Chris was always great to work with because he was meticulous in his focus. You never had to stand and look over his shoulders because in the end you knew he'd give you a good product," he said.
Mr. Suntum was an avid gardener and enjoyed planting and maintaining the gardens around his home.
"Chris loved flowers. He planted annuals and perennials and always had something blooming all the time," said his wife of 18 years, the former M. Colette Sorrell, who met her future husband when they found themselves on the same coed softball team in Rockville.
"I had played softball in college and a friend of mine urged me to join the team. She said they never had enough women players, so I joined," said Mrs. Suntum, a registered nurse who works for Howard County public schools.
"Chris was the kind of guy who always put others first. He was always doing things for others," she said.
Mr. Suntum enjoyed attending family gatherings and his children's academic and sporting activities.
He was a communicant of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, 8300 Old Columbia Road in Fulton, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday.
Also surviving are a son, John Christopher Suntum, 13; a daughter, Katherine Cecilia Suntum, 16; his mother, Eleanor C. Suntum of Takoma Park; three brothers, Father James Suntum, S.F., of Chimayo, N.M., Joseph P. Suntum of Damascus and George P. Suntum of Palm City, Fla.; seven sisters, Moira Suntum of Takoma Park, Peggy Suntum of Reston, Va., Eleanor Suntum of Wolf Creek, Ore., Phyllis Phillips of Salisbury, EvaMarie Suntum of Sterling, Va., Lucy Schneid of Portland, Ore., and Virginia O'Malley of Catonsville; and many nieces and nephews.