Rodney Bert Gornto III, “Bert”
Rodney Bert Gornto III (August 30, 1943 – June 22, 2021)
Bert passed away on June 22, 2021, after a sudden heart attack near his home in Columbia, South Carolina. He was seventy eight years old. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, he was the oldest child and only son of Bert Gornto, Jr. and Nina Bussey Gornto. His younger sister is Beth Gornto Gray of Prosperity, SC. His younger sister, Judith Gornto Ulgen, preceded him in death.
Bert attended schools in Chicago, Illinois, where his father was stationed in the US Army, in Wilmington NC and in North Myrtle Beach, SC. He was a graduate of Wampee-Little River High School in Conway, SC. He attended Wilmington College, North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina. At USC he earned two Bachelor degrees, in 1967 and 1974.
In 1967 he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving a four year commitment with service at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Great Lakes Naval Air Station and Charleston SC Naval Hospital as a Navy Medical Corpsman, caring for returning Vietnam veterans and other US Navy members. Following his military service, he returned to Columbia, SC, attended the University of South Carolina, was employed at Richland Memorial Hospital and married Karen Michele Sundstrom in July 1973.
Pursuing a life-long interest in health and physical mobility he studied anatomy and physiology at the Atlanta School of Massage Therapy and graduated as part of their first class, becoming one of the first active, certified and licensed massage therapists in Columbia. He focused on functional mobility, pain relief without medication and stress relief. He worked with clients experiencing high levels of pain, stress and immobility. Through continuing study and education he developed great skill and studied multiple methods for assisting clients. Bert continued to see clients over many years at his home office in Columbia. Massage therapy was a healing calling for him.
Bert Gornto was a serious, dedicated student of traditional Okinawan martial arts for nearly forty years. He studied under his teacher and friend, Hanshi Ridgely Abele, of Columbia SC (deceased). Hanshi Abele was a significant influence on him for over twenty years and under his direction Bert earned Third Dan black belt rank. He studied under many highly ranked martial arts instructors including Jim Logue (deceased) and Troy J. Price, and attended many conferences and trainings over three decades. Bert was training weekly with his long-time friend and teacher, Rod Gardner, of West Columbia, SC at the time of his death.
Bert was an exceptional, enthusiastic singer, beginning with the Blue Jackets Navy Choir in 1967. He continued his music for more than thirty years. He sang bass with the choir of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbia SC, the Palmetto Mastersingers and the Columbia Choral Society. He was an active member of the Arpad Darazs Singers of Columbia at the time of his death. Bert especially loved being part of the “Sing along Messiah” each December at Washington Street United Methodist Church in Columbia and looked forward to singing together with others in December 2021.
Bert is survived by his wife of forty nine years, Karen Michele Sundstrom of Columbia, his youngest sisterBeth Gray of Prosperity SC, his nephews Benjamin Douglas Gray of Prosperity, Alex Grubbs of Irmo and Cem Ulgen of Istanbul, Turkey, grandnephews Nathan and Andrew Gray of Prosperity, grandnieces Jude Grubbs of Prosperity and Sungu Ulgen of Istanbul, Turkey and many cousins in South and North Carolina. Bert’s younger sister Judith Gornto Ulgen predeceased him in 2015.
Bert’s wish was for cremation and has been honored by his wife and family. Plans for a later memorial service will be shared through this website. You are requested and encouraged to leave remembrances here at the Mosely Funeral Home website or at his active Facebook page. Please share your story of knowing Bert and tell us about your memories and thoughts.
Bert was loved by many friends and family and is held and remembered through that loving tie. He valued you and was made happy by your respect, care and affection. Please continue to remember and support each other, Karen and the family. In doing this, you will continue to honor and love him.