Eunice Louise Bergstrom, 91
Monday, July 21, 2014 8:36 AM
We will miss our lovely mother, Eunice Louise Bergstrom, nee Irwin, who died Monday, June 9, 2014, at age 91. A successful and productive human being by any measure, she lived above all a life of compassion, peace and grace. The world was richer for her presence.
After graduating at 15 from Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Eunice studied nursing at Broadlawns Hospital, also in that city. In 1944, on one week's notice, she married Robert "Bob" Bergstrom, her longtime
sweetheart. As Bob related it, when he told her that he had a week to report to a base in Texas, she informed him that she was going with him, and he said he guessed they had better get married. Military life taught much, and Eunice faced many new experiences. When she and Bob moved to a base in Mississippi, she saw racial violence that profoundly shocked her; she was an
active supporter of civil rights for the rest of her life.
Following the war and a tragedy within her immediate family, Eunice and Bob decided on a different life. City kids both, they began working land in northwest Iowa on a farm that belonged to a relative. A few years later,
they bought their own farm near Chatfield.
As a young mother and farm wife, Eunice was hardworking, resourceful and self-sufficient. She loved being outdoors and working with her husband. They milked 40 cows twice a day, grew all of the feed for the herd on their 220 acres and successfully practiced the myriad of skills necessary for that life. While Bob was in the fields, she was doing something productive with her time, 100 percent of the time. Eunice made her own soap. She tended a garden that provided much of the family's food, and she nurtured the flowers
she loved. She cooked, canned, cleaned, sewed and mended, watched over homework and dispensed wise counsel, bandages and Merthiolate as necessary for their growing brood. Eunice served as host mother to American Field Service exchange students, Timothy Wilson, of Australia, and Froydis Jaren, of Norway, and Vietnamese war refugees, Nguyen Duong, Thuon Duong and Hung Luong. Each became and has remained a member of her family. and Bob's recreation, to the extent that they had time for any, was found in enjoyment of the books with which they filled their house. Those books and a corresponding love of reading were their lifetime gift to their children, a gift that continues to give to this day.
As her family matured, Eunice's role changed to that of additional breadwinner. Her nursing background was an asset; in the following years she occupied interesting and fulfilling positions at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. She advanced steadily in her Mayo career, reaching a professional level that included working on a 10-year research project and flying to Chicago for business meetings.
Eunice retired from Mayo more than 20 years later. Freedom from children and career translated into leisure time. She could now more fully explore her love of the English language, especially through reading and writing poetry. Her poetry was economical, insightful, graceful and full of love, reflecting her intelligence and gentle humor. Several times a grandmother,
she was a source of tranquility for a fussy baby, a kind and calming influence on rambunctious older children. She kept a gracious home and made guests, children and grandchildren welcome.
Eunice and Bob traveled widely after their retirement. They spent time in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and northern and Mediterranean Europe; they toured the U.S. in their motorhome and Central America by tramp
steamer. Through the Elderhostel program they visited educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad, where they studied a wide variety of subjects. They finally settled in Mesa, Ariz., near their daughter, Ellen
and her family.
Eunice was predeceased by Bob, who died in December 2012, and by her
grandson, Michael Haines.
She is survived by her seven children, Kristin Bergstrom (Lloyd Dickinson), Milwaukee, Wis.; Ann Haines, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Robert (Julia), Los Angeles, Calif.; Karen (Raymond Randall), Centreville, Va.; Charles (Diane Hoover), Seattle, Wash.; David, St. Paul; and Ellen (James Nemetz), Phoenix, Ariz. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Jan Scislowicz, Elizabeth Haines, Lukas Bergstrom, Katrina Dickinson, Lauren and Raymond Randall, Robert and Will Bergstrom and Britt and Jake Nemetz.
A celebration of life for Eunice and Bob will be held later this year. Together, Eunice and Bob raised their children to love each other and to be functioning members of society. Their children are honored to be their legacy.