Lillian Bergstrom, age 107, died at her home in Bradford Township on December 25, 2017. A celebration of her life will be held this spring.
Lillian was born to Fred and Lena (Peterson) Boettcher at their farm on the shores of Lake Francis in Bradford Township. In autobiographical notes, she recalls that: “When I was a child of school age, I walked two miles to a country school, and home again on a sandy country road.” She attended high school and a year of teacher training in Cambridge. In 1929-1931 she taught in a one-room school– Isanti County District 21 in Athens Township.
She wrote that “In 1932 during the depression, there were fewer teaching jobs available. I was unable to find a position in a village school for which I had prepared myself by attending the St. Cloud Teachers’ College (in 1931-32). I accepted a position in what was called an accredited rural position. My wages had dropped since the teaching year previous to the college year.”
In following years, she taught at the Beehive School in Dalbo Township, the Athens rural school, and the Isanti village school. In 1939, after a long courtship, she married Carl Bergstrom and began life as a farm wife and mother. In addition to helping with the farm work and caring for children, she was active in community service, church activities and local politics. Her children fondly remember her loving care and her school teacher’s enthusiasm for reading and learning.
In 1959, with children grown, she returned to teaching. She taught at the Long Lake and Oxlip rural schools. She resumed her own education and in 1970, at the age of 60, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Cloud State. She taught at the Isanti Elementary School from 1968 until 1976, when she retired from teaching. Her cherished husband, Carl, died in 1972. Lillian managed the farm and was active in community service. She helped in the restoration of West Riverside School and taught summer classes there. She helped to organize restoration of St. John’s Lutheran church in Bradford Township. She served on the board of directors of Cambridge Hospital. She volunteered as a teacher in the local adult literacy program and she worked with the Isanti County Historical Society and several other community organizations. During these years she researched local and family history, and traveled widely, visiting children and grandchildren. In later years she participated in activities of the Grandview Day Care Center, and was cared for in her own home by a dedicated team of local caregivers.
Lillian Bergstrom passed away at her home in Bradford Township on December 25, 2017 at the age of 107 years and 10 days. She was preceded in death by her husband, Carl, her brother, Russell Boettcher, and sisters, Ethel Nystrom and Mildred McKay.
Lillian is survived by her son, Ted of Santa Barbara, CA, and daughters, Judy of Fremont, CA, and June of Tokyo, Japan, and by three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.