Clarence "Eldred" Bergstrom, Sr. of Edna, passed away on Sunday, January 17, 2021, at the age of 101. Eldred was born on Wednesday, January 14, 1920 to Clarence David and Myrtle Mae Wyer Bergstrom at home outside of Louise, Texas. He graduated Salutatorian in the first graduating class of Louise High School.
Eldred attended Texas A&I in Kingsville, TX before joining the Army Corps on December 2, 1941, just 5 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a navigator / bombardier instructor at several bases in the United States before being sent to Europe and was discharged with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on October 16, 1945
Eldred married the love of his life, Janis Elaine Riggs on Wednesday, September 6, 1944, and they lived in Edna where he was a rice farmer and cattle rancher. Eldred, along with 11 other farmers, bought the Edna Rice Dryer, which is now part of Rice Belt Warehouse in the early 50's, and was on the board of the Rice Council and Rice Marketing Board. He was on the Edna School Board from 1957-1968. He also had a crop dusting service along with Jerrell Brown and Harold Koop in the 80's. He helped start the Edna Country Club and was director in charge of the swimming pool. Eldred was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Edna.
Eldred has been preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife, Janis, his grandson, Klinton Shaw, and his sister, Lucille Garrett. He is survived by his children and their spouses, Eldred Bergstrom, Jr. and Nancy, Nancy Kay and Gene Goggans, Bobby and Sherrie Bergstrom, and Betty Sue and Kenny Shaw. His grandchildren, David and Thad, Scott and Sara, Christian and Heather, and Ken. He is also survived by his 13 great-grandchildren and his 6 great-great grandchildren.
Services wil be held at the First United Methodist Church on Thursday, January 21st beginning with visitation at 1:00 pm, followed by the funeral service at 2:00 pm with Pastor Kelli Williamson officiating, interment will follow at Memory Gardens of Edna.
The family of Eldred would like to thank Grow In Grace, and The Dugger House for the excellent loving care they have given Daddy over the past 4 years. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 216 W. Main St. or P. O. Box 790, Edna, TX 77957 or Grow In Grace P.O. Box 281, Ganado, TX 77962.
Services have been entrusted to Russell Todish of Slavik Funeral Home, 209 N. Allen St. Edna, TX 77957, 361-782-2152.
This part of the obituary are the words of Mr. Bergstrom.
I was born on January 14, 1920, at our house 12 miles west of El Campo, Texas to Clarence David Bergstrom and Myrtle Mae Wyer Bergstrom. We lived about 1/4 mile from my Aunt Pearl and Uncle Art, who were Daddy's brother and Mother's sister, so we were double first cousins to Everett, 6 months younger than me, Raymond, 3 years younger, and Willard 5 years younger. Norma Faye came along 14 years later. My sister, Lucille, whom I always called Cindy, was 4 years younger than me. We all lived and played together as children and went to the same 2 room school at Round Mott Community. We rode horses to school everyday. While in class, our teacher, one of two teaching all grades 1st through 8th, would teach in 20 minute periods before moving on to the next grade. We would then either do lessons given or listen to the next class.
Everett and I were good friends and like to go swimming in the rice pump pond near our house. That was cold water, but it sure felt good on a hot day. Once we set fire to a haystack behind the barn while we were smoking. We got a good whipping for that one.
When I was 14, we moved to Louise because Daddy was County Commissioner and I started going to Louise High School. Everett came to live with us for high school because the Round Mott Community School only went through 8th grade. I graduated in the first graduating class of Louise High School as Salutatorian. Doris Glaze was Valedictorian of our class 11.
I went to Texas A&I for 2 years, going to school during the fall and spring semesters and working for Brown & Root during the summers. One summer I was in Angleton and the next in Wharton.
My mother, Myrtle Mae, died in 1939, and she was always the one who wanted me to go to college. Daddy didn't care if I went back or not, so I started farming rice. I had 2 crops before I left to join the Army Air Corps. I had just talked to Pete Miller and he told me about the 50 pound packs the Infantry carried and I told Daddy that I was joining the Air Corps because I didn't want to carry around a pack. I joined up on December 2, 1941, just 5 days before Pearl Harbor. I started out at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, then went to Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, an old Calvary Post. We were barracked where the horses used to be kept. After Jefferson Barracks, I was sent to Chanute Field, Illinois where I went to Aircraft Mechanic School for 3 months when I was made an Aircraft Mechanic Instructor with the rank of Corporal. I was sent to Lincoln, Nebraska and taught aircraft mechanics for about 1 year until June 1943 at the rank of Sergeant.
I had met Janis Riggs while at A&I and we ran around a bit, then she started teaching in Louise and lived in our house. She and Cindy became great friends and while I was home for 2 weeks following an appendectomy while stationed in Lincoln, Nebraska, we went out together every day. Janis joined the WACS in January, 1943 and was stationed in Omaha, Nebraska. I was still in Lincoln and we were about 70 miles apart and saw each other about every weekend.
I became an Air Force Cadet and did my basic training in Santa Ana, California and was evaluated as a bombardier. I was sent to Air Gunnery School in Las Vegas, Nevada and then to Victorville, California in the middle of the Mojave Desert to train as a bombardier. I graduated from there on September 2, 1944 as a 2nd Lieutenant. On September 6, 1944, Janis and I got married in Kennedy, Texas. I was stationed in Oklahoma City and Janis was in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We were about 100 miles apart and got to be together on weekends.
In December, 1944, I got sent to Savannah, Georgia for a couple of weeks, then to Fort Gilmer, New Jersey. That was the last stop before being shipped overseas. On December 24th, I boarded the "Amsterdam" and sat in New York Harbor until December 26th, then we shipped out and met a convoy from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The convoy had a lot of ships transporting troops to Europe and we were surrounded by battleships and had air coverage as well. It was a very rough crossing and out of the 9000 troops aboard the Amsterdam, 2000 were not sick. I was put in charge of a 5 inch gun on the back deck. I asked the gun crew if they knew how to use the gun and they did, I told them that was good because I did not. The gun crew were all enlisted men and had to have an officer over them, and that was me. Our crossing took 21 days. We landed in Scotland, unloaded some troops, then sailed around the bottom of England and unloaded some more, then back up through the Irish Sea to Scotland to the same place we had been 10 days before and disembarked. I was in England a couple of weeks, then was sent to Nancy, France. This was during the Battle of the Bulge. Then I met my outfit about 10 miles out of Brussels, Belgium. We had a crew of 3 on our A20, the pilot, the cameraman and me, the bombardier.. Our pilot was practicing night landings with another pilot when he was shot down by a German plane right over our airfield in Belgium. I didn't have a pilot for 2 or 3 months and didn't do anything during that time. I had been taught as a bombardier, but never dropped a bomb that hit the ground the whole time I was there. We dropped Magnesium bombs (Flash Bombs) that went off at 1500 feet and we took pictures every 1-1/2 miles. I only flew 3 missions the whole time I was in Europe. We were issued and carried only a .45 pistol under our left arms. After Brussels, I was sent to Maastricht, in the southern part of Holland, then to Wiesbaden, Germany. I was in Wiesbaden when the war ended. I got flown to Paris and just sat around for 2 months waiting to be sent home. I didn't really like the French people and they didn't like the Americans at all, they wanted us to leave their country.
On October 1st, I caught a ship out of La Havre, France for home. We landed in New Port News, Virginia,and on October 14th, and I was at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio and was discharged from the Army Air Corps on October 16th. When I walked out the gate, here came Janis walking up the street. We spent the night in the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio. The next day, we went to Kennedy and I saw 3 month old Eldred, Jr. for the first time. He had been born on July 16, 1945, about 1 month before the end of World War II. Janis had left him with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Riggs, so she could come and meet me. We moved to Edna and lived in the duplex on Pumphrey Street for the next two years. I went back to farming rice out where I had put in 2 crops before the war. Nancy was born on July 13, 1946. We lived in the duplex until our house on Brackenridge was finished in 1948. That is the house I still live in today. Bobby was born on February 1, 1950, then Betty Sue on August 7, 1952. That completed our family.
I helped Daddy build a bay house in Port Alto in 1934 that we spent most of the summers in. Janis would take the kids down there and I would come whenever I could. It was much cooler than there in town. Cindy would take her kids to their house just down the street, so our bunch and hers would play together and Janis and Cindy could talk. Hurricane Carla hit the coast on September 11, 1961 and a storm surge totally wiped out the entire community. We had nothing left except the front steps. We rebuilt the next year and kept going there until Cindy and I sold the property sometime after Janis died in 1998.
I had rice crops from 1946 until I retired from farming in 1996. I had a ranch with Charlie Dugger, the IT, near Lolita for 5 or 6 years in the late 50's - early 60's. I started running cattle on the farm in 1965. I bought those first ones from Lucille after Daddy died in November of that year. I still have cattle out on the farm. Twelve of us farmers bought the rice dryer in the early 50's and added on to it. I was the treasurer of the Dryer Co-Op for a while. We later sold it to Rice Belt out of El Campo. I was on the board of the Rice Council and Rice Marketing Board. I was elected to the Edna School Board in 1957 and remained on the board until 1968.
In 1955, we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park in our new Pontiac Station Wagon. Betty Sue was only about 3, so we left her at Cindy and Fritz's. I have pictures and movies of the bears and geysers. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen was in Gardner, Montana. We stayed in a log cabin that had a stream running right behind it.
The 4 kids all grew up, went to school, and got married and after they left, we started going on Tauck Tour Trips. Our first trip was to Hawaii in 1974. Janis always arranged for us to be on one of the tours on our anniversary in September. We had a lot of really good trips and covered most of the United States with the exception of the Southeast. We never took a tour through Georgia, Alabama or the Carolinas. I guess my favorite trip was the one to the Pacific Northwest. We started in San Francisco and went up the coast through Oregon and Washington, then on to Vancouver, Vancouver Island, back across to Banff, Lake Louise, and flew home from Calgary. On Vancouver Island, we stayed in the Empress Hotel in Victoria and went to Buschart Gardens. The landscaping and plants were beautiful. Tauck Tours only stay in the very best places and have the best food and we really enjoyed all our tours. Our last tour was to Mackinac Island, Michigan, where we stayed in the Grand Hotel. Cindy went on a couple of tours with us, the one to Michigan and the one to Idaho. We also like to take cruises and usually went on Holland American lines. We went to the Caribbean several times and to Alaska also. One day I came home from the farm and Janis told me that we were going on a 21 day cruise through the Panama Canal. The cruise people had called and said that they had room available, but we had to be able to leave in 2 days. She was already packing. That was on an Italian ship that left out of Ft. Lauderdale, went to 3 or 4 islands in the Caribbean, through the locks on the Panama Canal, then up the west coast of Mexico and ended in San Francisco.
Jerrell Brown, Harold Koop and I had a crop dusting service in the 80's and used Kenneth Rasmussen and Billy Atzenhoffer as our pilots. They bought the service from us and continued dusting for several years before Kenneth bought out Billy. He kept it for a few years before he sold it. We started the Edna Country Club and I was the director in charge of the swimming pool. The golf course was put in using my caterpillar and Lon Drushel's maintainer by our golf pro whose name I can't recall.
On June 21, 1998. Janis died from a stroke. I knew I would be lonely, but I guess you never know how much you will miss someone until they are no longer here. Over the years, we had a lot of good friends, all of them are now gone and I am the only one left. My life has had its ups and downs, but overall it has been a good life.
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