Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, April 13, 2013

R.I.P. Curt Berklund

The Berklunds were our neighbors in Cottonwood, arriving with a whole town of sawmill equipment and workers from Big Bay, Michigan, in 1952!  The six Berklund kids(Marian, David, Diane, Ruth, Jon, Becky) and the 10 Kopczynski's grew up together, often celebrating birthdays, eating ice cream, and sharing picnics in the backyard.  Adele Berkund and Alma Hutter became my Mom's best friends as she tried to have some sanity and adult conversation when Kopczynski family grew by one every 18 months!

 I think I was old enough to do a little babysitting for his family, but my younger siblings just had fun eating green apples with salt in the orchard or playing house in the old chicken coops.  Ah, those were the days when kids would make their own fun and felt safe running through the lumber piles or getting a 10 cent soda from the pop machine inside the sawmill!
I think these are the names of the kids in this picture - front row: Diane, David, Allan, Don, Connie.  Middle:  Nicki and Donna Mager, Karen held by Marilyn.  Back row:  Ruth, Joan, Marian, Queenie Robinson, Carole, and Nicki Kopczynski.  The Berklund house is in the background.  Once their new house was built, just down the street, Pete and Alma Hutter became our next door neighbors.

 Curt's grandchildren told stories about their grandpa and how he touched their lives.  Ruth and Wayne's daughter, talked about Grandpa's rules - wearing shoes to dinner, without hats, and being on time!  Family dinners became important events in the Berklund household.  Curt's namesake, Curtis John Berklund, Jon's son, talked about trapshooting with his grandpa and how he hopes to live up to his namesake and be successful by treating people with respect.  Curt's nephew, Dr. Hamel, named after his grandfather, William Berklund, spoke about the 4 "F's" in Curt's life, Family, Forte, Fortitude, and Faith.  I can't remember all the stories, but certainly saw evidence by watching the family greet others and openly sharing their faith at the funeral home. What I remember about Curt was his generosity to the people in Cottonwood.  David told a story about his grandfather, William Berklund, who always wanted to log Idaho white pine, having lunch in Cottonwood while searching for the perfect place in the northwest for a new sawmill.  One of the sisters from the Monastery of St. Gertrude overheard his conversation at the cafe and boldly approached him and said, "if you bring your sawmill to Cottonwood and provide jobs for the people of this community, we will sell you our white pine logs from the Cottonwood Butte."  I wondered if the sleepy community of Cottonwood welcomed this non-Catholic outsider or grumbled about the increased traffic, noise, and pollution his presence caused.  I asked Marge Lyda, 92, who was with her daughter, Joan, how the people of Cottonwood felt about the invasion of a whole community of workers and equipment from Michigan, and she responded,"well some people were a little jealous, I think, because the Berklunds were perceived as having great wealth, financially. Not us, we were one of the first to sell them our timber on Joseph Plains."  The Kopczynski family quickly learned about the Berklund generosity.  Grandma Berklund often paid Alma Hutter to prepare meals for our family of 10 when Mom was bedridden with rheumatic fever in 1958.  Curt's generosity continued as his foundation donated funds to St. Mary's Hospital and the Monastery of St. Gertrude long after he left the community.
Some of us were a part of their 50th wedding anniversary celebration in August, 2000, when my parents and sister, Carole,  were still alive.

Jon, Don, and David in 2000

Larry and his best friend, childhood pal, Jon!  Jon with Curtis John Berklund and Jon's daughter in the background.

Once again, we shared time and stories together and honored a true gentle man.  Rest in peace, dear Curt, and enjoy your crown of righteousness in the mansion Jesus prepared for you!

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