moustache      Sten-Erik Molker (23/3/1918 - 6/6/2003)      moustache

An appreciation by Conway and Rosemary Chiles

Sten-Erik was the patriarch of us all and was greatly respected throughout the 'moustache movement' all over the world. Sten-Erik was a great personal friend of ours and we will greatly miss his cheery phone calls from time to time. Although he was greatly admired by many, especially most of the ladies who knew him and had a 'soft spot' for him, he was somewhat of an enigma as not a lot was known of his history. Hence the following may be liable to correction.

From a painting of Sten-Erik's
old home in Molkom

bwmolker.jpg (5194 bytes)Sten-Erik was born in the town of Molkom which is about 200 miles north-east of Malmö, not far from the Norwegian border. His father was a Swedish nobleman who renounced his title early on. Hence, Sten-Erik was not officially labelled a nobleman, but by his gentlemanly conduct and modest friendliness to all he really didn't have to have a title. He served in the Royal Swedish Air Force probably before, but certainly during, WW2, mainly as a flight engineer. Until his death he was very interested in the Swedish Air Force Museum. In the war he flew in Caproni light bombers amongst others and afterwards was a flight engineer in Junkers Ju52/3ms in Borneo. At the time of his retirement he was with the Scandinavian air charter firm of Transair.
He never married. He apparently was engaged 3 times but each time this ended in tragedy, so in the end he decided to remain a bachelor. In later years he suffered quite a bit of ill health. Amongst other things he had a hip replacement which came out of joint about 6 times before it was replaced. He suffered a severe stroke some weeks before he died and was subsequently confined to hospital. During that time, and indeed before then when he was in a nursing home, members of the Swedish Club kept in close contact with him.

One thing we will always remember about Sten-Erik was that when he retired from Transair about 15 years ago he said he would try to gain a few more members in Sweden for the Club. He did! Membership applications poured in to the extent that I pleaded with him to start his own Club. The result is the excellent Club that there now is in Sweden. Long may it continue to be so - in memory of Sten-Erik.

03stmatteus.jpg (7462 bytes)Four representatives of the Handlebar Club went to the funeral service which was held on Monday, the 23rd June.  It was held at St. Matteus Protestant Church on Lantmannagatan in Malmö near where Sten-Erik had lived. The church is modern and the interior very light and tastefully designed. The seating is semi-circular which made one feel involved in the event. The funeral service started at 2pm and the Priest spoke of how fond Sten-Erik was of his old home in Molkom which is in the District of Värmland and of how beautiful this area is with forests and lakes. The last of the three hymns was from this region and later Sten-Erik was to be buried at Molkom.

03floraltributes.jpg (13848 bytes)After the main service, as we understand is a tradition in Sweden, watched by the Priest small groups formed round the coffin in succession. Everyone in turn placed flowers on the coffin, the men a single rose, the ladies bouquets - the Handlebar ladies' were of red and white roses. The coffin was surrounded by various floral arrangements including a wreath of red roses, white lilies and gypsophila from The Handlebar Club.

About 100 people attended the funeral and of these 87 attended the Memorial Reunion held in the church hall after the service. We were served with coffee, tea and cakes. Apart from Sten-Erik's relatives and members of the Swedish and Handlebar moustache clubs there was a number of people from other aspects of his life and work and several people stood up to give speeches, including Hans Hamrin and Kalle Fernholm. President and Secretary respectively of the Swedish Moustache Club. There were members of the Historical Air Society Museum and Airfield at Linköping, colleagues from the Transair Airline Company who met regularly and a Professor from Hamburg whom he had first met in London in the 1950s.

Sten-Erik was a very warm personality who will be remembered with great affection by those who knew him. It is sad that we will not see him again in this life, but his influence will live on.

Some time later Sten Erik's ashes were laid to rest in his family grave at Molkom where he had been born.  The oldest of his relatives carried the urn out to the grave and other relatives and friends followed in procession.  He placed the urn in the grave while a friend from the local airfield read a poem about flying.  As he did so, three aeroplanes flew over in the "missing man" formation; that is four aircraft flying in formation as a cross, but with the last one not there.  They turned around and came back one more time. It was a touching goodbye for Sten-Erik.
Later his friends were invited to visit the wartime airfield in Brattforsheden. It is being developed as a museum of the 1939 - 1945 war, and has a room where they have lots of books on flying donated by Sten-Erik.  In that room they also have his old writing table and even a Chesterfield sofa. It is called "Sten-Erik's room", so he will be remembered.