June and Stan Berg - 1951-2010
- Published on Friday, 13 August 2010 22:00
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Every married couple has two important dates and anniversaries in their life together. The first is the day they met and the second is the day they were married.
June and I first met at a little Cafe in Barron, WI on 21 May 1951 while I was home on leave from the Army. Perhaps a divine appointment? We had our first date the next day at "The Spot" on Lake Chetek narrows. This was the year that Patti Page (Born on the same exact date as June.) had her greatest hit song - "The Tennessee Waltz." This beautiful waltz became our song.
June and I were married the following year on Saturday August 16th, 1952 (Both age 24) in Bloomington, Illinois at the Wesley Methodist Church. I was attending a State Farm job training school at Bloomington, IL. June arrived on the train from the Barron, WI area to join me for our wedding. The County Clerks Office opened on the weekend just to accommodate our need for a license – The Pastor Atherton was helpful and a sweet little old lady (Mrs. Veatz) provided her large old home for the weekend. It was a wonderful time, town, and people.
Our 5th Wedding anniversary 16 August 1957, followed our move to Fridley, from our first Home in Duluth. We purchased a new home at 6361 Washington Street. We bought our first new car, a 1957 Chevrolet Station wagon which later become a "Classic Car." The family spent a week camping in Custer Park, Black Hills of South Dakota. The President was Eisenhower . Russia inaugurated the "Space Age" with the successful launch of their "Sputnik " satellite.
16 August 1962 - 10th Wedding Anniversary. In commemoration, we commissioned family artist (Jake Varnes) to do a large oil painting of a wooded lake scene for our living room.
June’s church activities with Redeemer Lutheran went into high gear and continued for a lifetime. June taught Sunday School, was a Girl Scout leader, served on the Redeemer Church Board and was a frequent Nursing Home visitor...She was also a chairwoman of the church women circles and frequently hosted meetings in our home. June also served as half of an evangelism team that called on church members and others..…
Three years later on 6 May 1965, our home on Washington Street was badly damaged by 2 tornados the same evening - the deadliest tornados to strike Minnesota in many decades. 14 people killed, 683 injured. June prayed us through the tornados and none of our family was injured in the lethal storm.
The year following, we designed and built a new home on a small hill near Moore Lake in Fridley. This home on Gardena Lane became June’s favorite and our final home. The President was John Kennedy, noted later that year for his "Cuban Missile Crisis". The drive in movie was then a very popular family outing.
16 August 1967 - 15th Wedding Anniversary. 1967 was June’s 40th birthday and also featured June’s first Airline flight - Western Airlines from Minneapolis to San Francisco via Denver. We also visited Disneyland, and Las Vegas. The trip became our long awaited and delayed honeymoon. Flying then became our standard mode of travel. We would later tally upward of 100 flights together, mostly on forensic science activities.
We participated in the first ever, forensic science cultural exchange with Russia and Hungary. This Soviet travel took place at the height of the cold war in October of 1969. June and I flew to Moscow via Warsaw for meetings of the Soviet American Symposium in Forensic Science. Meetings were also held in Leningrad and Budapest with a brief stay in Vienna on the return trip. Friends had expressed some concern for our safety because of the tense US and Soviet political climate but June had no fears. It was a wonderful adventure. On one exotic evening, June and I danced the night away at a colorful Ball in Moscow’s Rossia Hotel. It was following this experience, that June had the confidence to take her mother Haldis on a tour of Norway (Summer 1972) that included her Mom’s old home area of Bodo-Rodoy.
16 August 1972 - 20th Wedding Anniversary. This year would signal a flurry of European travel on forensic science activities that provided a period of high adventure for June and me. In the fall of 1972, June and I visited both Edinburgh and London on forensic science matters. While in Edinburgh I served as Chairman for the Firearms and General Criminalistics Symposium at the International forensic science conferences. During this United Kingdom trip, we attended a reception by Her Majesties Government and also established a life long friendship with the Bruce's of Bexley, Kent south of London. . We watched the Bruce children grow up over the next 20 plus years and eight visits to their home.
In the fall of 1973, June and I visited Rome for a forensic medicine conference where I lectured on "Supersonic Gunshot Wounds"...The second week again found June and in London. While in Rome, June and I had an audience with Pope Paul VI that resulted in June exchanging a handshake with the Pope. We attended Receptions by the President of Italy and the U.S. Embassy.
In 1974, forensic science would bring June and I to the old German University city of Gottingen near the fortified east-west border of a then divided Germany.
In the fall of 1975, June and I would visit Europe for forensic science meetings in Zurich where I lectured and also served as Chairman of the "Criminalistics Symposium on Laboratory Planning". June and I had a 2d week in London. Those were exciting times and years for June and me.
16 August 1977 - Our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We celebrated our 25th anniversary in the Rice Lake area of Wisconsin where both June's family (Varnes/Rolstad's) and my family had gathered for the occasion. June and I purchased a "Grandfather Clock” for our living room to commemorate the occasion. Earlier that spring, June had taken her Mother Haldis and stepfather Ed Nedland on a whirlwind coast to coast tour, visiting relatives all along the way. June was the driver, the planner and the navigator for the entire trip. Following the auto trip, June took her sister Betty on a return visit to their family relatives in Norway. After our anniversary celebration, in early fall, June and I returned to London on forensic science matters.
16 August 1982 - Our 30th Wedding Anniversary. President was Ronald Reagan. Unknown to June and I, Alzheimer's clouds were forming over the distant horizon. Although June was not diagnosed with Alzheimer's until January 1998 after noting memory problems in 1997, the deadly disease was probably already at work undermining June's mind and personality. Mayo Clinic advises that before the first Alzheimer's symptoms appear, the disease has usually been working in the brain for 10-20 years.
Meanwhile June was busy with her many Redeemer Church activities while together we continued to travel around the US and Europe on forensic science activities. I was then self employed as a full time forensic consultant. I had taken an early retirement in 1984 from a previous managerial position at State Farm Insurance Companies. June was my administrative assistant and she continued to travel extensively with me to forensic conferences in the US and abroad. In late 1984, June and I traveled to Oxford University, and then on to Londonfor forensic conferences.
16 August 1992 - Our 40th Anniversary. June and I were 64 years of age. In 1993 June and I traveled to Europe for a international forensic conference at Germany’s Dusseldorf University. I presented aforensic firearms lecture and served as Chairman of the Scientific Sessions on Firearms. June and I spent our second week in our favorite city of London.
The year 1992 also found us at the "Grand Ole Opry" in Nashville for the 2nd time. We would later visit the "Opry" for the final time in 1996. June had arranged our first visit to the "Opry" in 1990. Classic Country and Gospel was music we both loved, music from the heart and a reflection of our roots.
June's Alzheimer's diagnosis in January 1998 left us shocked and stunned. We re-evaluated our remaining life. In a few months we would be age 70. Our goal became one of doing the things we never seemed to get around to do in the past. We made up our "bucket list" and we did them all! The trip to Hawaii we had often talked of. A Christmas season bus tour to Branson recommended by our friends. Then a final goodbye trip to London to visit our friends Joan and Gord Bruce and timed with the Sherlock Holmes Festival.
My immediate objective was to take advantage of as many travel and other positive life living/enjoying opportunities as was possible in June’s remaining time. From the day of diagnosis, Alzheimer’s cuts the remaining longevity in half. I wanted June's last few years of her life to be as full as we could make them before Alzheimer's would take over the life of a very special lady. June and I did many fun and family non forensic travel like flying to Seattle for the weekend to celebrate June's birthday or travel to Raleigh, NC to visit our daughter Susan and grandson Daniel. We even did some Amtrak and Bus travels in those later final years.
(Photo below right was taken on our 50th Anniversary, August 2002 - June is on the left and my mother Ellen is on the right - both died as victims of Alzheimer's.)
16 August 2002 - Our 50th Anniversary. This was a great celebration. Our daughter Julie hosted a party at her home and our other children David, Daniel and Susan were there as were most of our grandchildren along with many friends and relatives. June thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. June’s Alzheimer's while still in early stages with severe short term memory difficulties was now about to enter into the darkest regions of this cruel disease.
The year 2003 was the last year we were able to travel by air. I announced that I was closing my forensic business and taking no new cases in order that I could devote more time to June. Thereafter in 2004, our travel was restricted to automobile and approximately 100 miles of the immediate home area.
In the year 2004, the blackest shadows of Alzheimer's were rapidly closing in. On December 31st, 2004, my forensic consulting business was closed.
In March of 2005, June was placed in a nursing home for assistance with her further care. Thereafter I slowly lost June, tear drop by tear drop...
After mid year 2006, June no longer knew me, and was unresponsive - her mind had retreated to a land or place of mental isolation.
On October 23rd, 2008, two months after our 56th Wedding anniversary, and 57 years after our first date, June quietly passed away early in the morning from Aspiration pneumonia, a common complication of Alzheimer's disease.
The light of my life had flickered out. June was like a beautiful musical symphony that had played during our life together, and now ceased to exist. June was a humble lady whose inspiration, example and love has revealed and continues to reveal the presence of God.
Thanks June, for being a blessing, my inspiraton, for all the memories and for making my life an adventure.
Only a lonely heart understands the sadness of the mind that your absence brings with the arrival of the dusk of each day.
I will love you until the sands of time have ceased their endless trickle!
(Published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for Sunday August 15th, 2010, Variety section - Celebrations. Note: The Minneapolis Star - Tribune original published version contained a boxed message at the end of the article that directed the readers to visit June's website for informaiton on Alzheimer's and how they could help to find a cure. The website address was then shown in bold letters.)
If you are able to visit June's guestbook and leave her a note, I am sure June would be pleased:
After battling Alzheimer's for almost 12 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - or just Click on:
For the story of June’s favorite home at 6025 Gardena Lane and the poem I wrote about this home during a day of deep sadness, click on the below link: (This was June’s home for almost 40 years. It was constructed shortly after the previous home was severely damaged in a tornado. 6025 Gardena Lane was the first home the June participated in the selection and purchase of a lot on a small hill, helped with the design of the home and watched it being constructed. 6025 Gardena Lane had a special place in June's heart.)