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Saturday, May 6, 2023
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Saturday, May 6, 2023
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Saturday, May 6, 2023
2:00 - 3:00pm (Central time)
Richard Douglas Bergsten was born June 25, 1949, to Robert and Virginia (Dietze) Bergsten in Manhattan, Kansas. He grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas. He was sometimes the only student in his grade at Star schoolhouse, a one-room country school. He won a state history contest — not surprising given his keen interest in history. Even years later, he always had a Civil War book at hand to read. Rich graduated from Blue Valley High School in 1967.
4-H filled his childhood summers, showing calves and swine at the Riley County Fair. He raised many grand champions. During those years on the farm, Richard’s Aunt De (Virginia’s youngest sister), stayed with them for extended periods of time. De says she and Richard “basically grew up together.” She fondly remembers their horses Trigger and Spot, their dog Lassie, the town of Mayday, and the Star schoolhouse.
During his last year in high school, Richard finally got a sibling — his brother, Rex. With 17 years’ difference in their ages, their unique brotherhood and friendship remained special to them both through the years. Rex recalls when he was growing up that when his brother would visit, Richard would be subjected to many hours of shooting hoops and playing HORSE. They enjoyed many games of three-handed cribbage with their dad. (Cribbage playing would continue the rest of his life, as his wife, Mardelle, says they have a log of wins and losses in cribbage dating back 15 years.)
Richard graduated from Kansas State University with a business degree in 1970. As a child, he went to K-State games with his dad and grandfather. He cheered for K-State all his life. With his parents and his own family, he attended the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Illinois, in 1982, and all boys attended the Big XII Bowl in 1998, with the whole family wearing purple.
He met Mardelle Arff while sledding with his Dietze cousins in Nebraska. The couple married on Nov. 13, 1971. One month before the wedding, though, Richard wanted to change the date as it was the Nebraska-K-State football game day. Mardelle chose royal purple as her bridesmaid color!
After graduation, Richard accepted a position in Lincoln, Nebraska. His career with Cooperative companies spanned Nebraska, Texas, and Illinois over 35 years. He served as an auditor, CPA, and Chief Financial Officer. He had CPA licenses in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
Their family grew with the births of their sons, Ryan and Russell. Together with Mardelle, Richard carried on his passion for 4-H to his boys, who participated in many 4-H activities, including raising rabbits. Rich and Mardelle even sponsored a two-week 4-H trip to Washington, D.C., with 30 teenagers. Richard was finally able to see all those sights he had read about in his history books.
When his sons wanted to be in Boy Scouts, Rich helped in all leadership roles, including Cubmaster and Boy Scout leader. He was so proud when both his sons earned Eagle Scout. Less favorite were the long nights sleeping on the ground in an extra-long sleeping bag.
The Bergsten family loved to travel. Before Ryan and Russell graduated high school, they had already been to 37 states. In later years, Rich and Mardelle traveled on their own, making it to all but three states. They enjoyed bus trips where Rich could enjoy the scenery. Five years ago, the whole family enjoyed a trip to Disney World. Watching the grandkids enjoying the rides was fun.
Rich started his young sons in soccer, when it was relatively new to the area and the boys’ grandparents thought it was a “weird, foreign sport.” Before they moved to Holdrege in junior high, they were playing club soccer. With no soccer program in their new town, Richard helped start the Holdrege Soccer Club, organizing teams and building soccer fields. His main job was to start a referee program, teaching, judging, and scheduling all the referees. At 70 years old, he refereed from the bleachers. Rich was so proud watching all four of his grandchildren play soccer.
Richard always said he and Mardelle were cheerleaders for their grandchildren. Even Rich’s funeral date was chosen around the grandkids’ activities. They kept busy attending all kinds of sports activities, Sunday School programs, confirmation celebrations, dance recitals, and school programs, including National Honor Society. He was always so proud of his grandchildren. Just this Easter, Richard gave a silver dollar from his coin collection to each grandchild in their Easter stash. Each of his sons received a unique heads or tails coin.
For the past 15 years, Richard enjoyed helping Santa. Over the years, he entertained many children (and adults) at Christmastime. Some of Richard’s favorite foods were seafood, Swedish, and salt on his watermelon.
Every Thursday in the past few years, Rich and Mardelle would go out with their breakfast group. All the waitresses know the routine — boys at one table and girls at the other. The boys talked about tools, guns, and Gretna happenings. Every Friday, Rich played five-card pinochle with a different group at the Senior Center for two hours, followed by 60-cent bingo.
Mardelle said that during the busy years of raising their boys, Christianity was not “high on our list.” They experienced a renewal of their faith during their years in Galva, IL. After moving to Gretna 15 years ago, Resurrection Lutheran Church became home. Rich served on Church Council, as well as the Benevolence and Missions Committee. He loved helping with VBS and activities with OWLs — Older, Wiser Lutherans.
Richard was blessed with many life experiences before his passing on April 28, 2023. He is preceded in death by son Randall; parents; grandparents; and mother-in-law and father-in-law. Left to mourn his passing are his loving wife, Mardelle, of Gretna, NE; sons Ryan (Kari) Bergsten, of Gretna, NE, and Russell (Melanie) Bergsten, of Kearney, NE; grandchildren Reagan and Rhett, of Gretna, NE, and Braedyn and Brooklyn, of Kearney, NE; brother, Rex (Lori) Bergsten; aunts Darlene Dietze and Delores Bishop; sister-in-law, Alane (Ronald) Johns; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Funeral Service 11 AM Saturday (5/6/2023) at Resurrection Lutheran Church (153 S. McKenna Ave Gretna, Nebraska 68028) with visitation 2 hours prior at 9 AM. Luncheon at church to follow directly after services. Interment 2PM at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Memorials to be dedicated to the family for later designation.