John M. Bergstrom, 99, died peacefully in his home on Sept. 25, 2016. During the last weeks of his life, he was surrounded by members of his beloved family, who were a source of both pride and joy for him. In 1917, John was born in Minneapolis, Minn., to John and Alice Bergstrom and soon became the oldest of five children. In 1926, his family moved to Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, where his father owned the Bergstrom Hotel. John left Canada in 1937, just prior to his 21st birthday, in order to retain his American citizenship. He landed in Denver, Colo., where he owned a small grocery and delicatessen. John often spoke of those formative years with prideful nostalgia, but also never lost sight of the fact that those years were his past and were not as important as whatever was happening at the current moment. In 1939, John studied aircraft assembly and worked for North American Aviation. He served as a first lieutenant with the Air Force Ordinance in New Guinea, the Netherlands, East Indies and the Philippines during World War II. Following a bout with malaria, he spent time in Australia, where he met and married beautiful and athletic Norma Cahill in 1943. Their oldest son was born in Rockhampton. After World War II, the small family settled in the Los Angeles, Calif., area, where four more children were born in short order. John began working for RCA in 1948 as a television service technician when TV was a new phenomenon and repairmen actually visited customers homes. He soon worked his way up to branch manager and took his family to California branches in Bakersfield, San Jose and Fresno. After working for RCA for 30 years, John joyfully approached retirement, the next phase of his life. He and Norma moved to Lake Tahoe, where John once again owned a small business, this time working out of his garage sharpening tools for contractors. They embraced cross country skiing and cutting their own firewood and always their family, which now included daughters and a son-in-law as grandchildren started arriving. John and Norma then moved to Ashland, Ore. There, they continued their active life, including fishing, camping, constructing works of stone and hosting family reunions, especially at Bandon-by-the-Sea. It was in Ashland that John first demonstrated skills as a caregiver for his beloved Norma. She died in 1989. John began a new life once again when he married Doleen Gardner. They moved to Medford, Ore., and shared a life that included her eight children, their spouses and children. After many active and happy years, John was once again called on to be a caregiver, this time for Doleen. He was patient and kind as she dealt with Alzheimer's disease and even felt a kind of contentment as long as she was by his side, feeling contented in her own way. They moved to Klamath Falls, Ore., in 2005. He was active in caregiver support groups and even continued to proudly lead "55 Alive" classes for AARP. Doleen died in 2010. John remained independent in his own home, walking daily in Moore Park, making conversations with every new person he met no matter where he was. Two years ago, his son Greg came to live with him. They supported each other as they both lived their last days here. John was a lifelong learner. He challenged himself by doing crossword puzzles, always in ink, word jumbles and thinking up mathematical problems, then their solutions. He kept track of the phases of the moon and also followed sports, especially baseball and tennis. He knew the names of every bird that made its home in the Klamath Basin. He was first a Republican, then a Democrat, then registered as an Independent. This could never be interpreted as flip-flopping. John was forever evolving. His family was always first in his mind and heart and, as the years went past, that feeling only grew stronger. His children all remained close to him as did their spouses. He created a unique and tight bond with each of his grandchildren so that each one felt special to him and indeed they were. He also delighted in his great-grandchild, born in March. Preceding him in death were his brother, Richard "Bud;" sisters, Audrey and Doris; his first wife and mother of his children, Norma; his second wife, Doleen; his sons, Steve and Greg; and grandson, Keith. John is survived by his brother, Paul; sons, Richard (Carol Patzkowsky) and John (Karen); daughter, Chris (Tom Sassman); daughters-in-law, Wanda and Teri; grandchildren, Craig, Hadley (Jen), David, Andrew, Lewis (Ashley,) Zackery, Olivia (Nate Wimble) and Peter (Eriko); and great-grandchild, Kylee. John lived a full, rich life and left his family with great memories and a legacy of love. To honor John, please make a donation to the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank or the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.
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