Leonard Bergstrom died on Feb. 6, 2019, at the age of 86.
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Services: Leonard will be buried in the DFW National Cemetery located in Dallas, at a private service. The family will plan a Celebration of Leonard’s life later in the spring.
He was a self-made man who had a very long and full life, filled with the joy of earned success; but still burdened with many life struggles, including the loss of his son, Jeff (at age 16).
The fourth of seven children, he was born in Pocahontas, Iowa, on June 30, 1933, to Everett and Rose Bergstrom. At the age of 15, he left the farm to start his career as a construction worker. Although the work was physically challenging it gave him the opportunity to travel and discover the Midwest. He met and married the love of his life, Sharon Helt, in 1954. He was drafted to the Navy in 1955 and served 2 years at San Diego, California. He then served for four years in the Naval Reserves. He and Sharon moved back to Sioux City, Iowa, where he worked on a crew building road projects throughout many small towns in Nebraska and Iowa. During the summers, he would take his family with him and they would get to enjoy the rustic life of living in small motels and exploring new frontiers.
In 1964, he and Sharon took their life savings and invested it in a small motel in North Platte, Nebraska. Besides running the motel, he worked on the first Interstate Highway through Nebraska as the foreman in charge of laying forms. When that job ended, he worked as a foreman at a power plant. Leonard literally never stopped working. Most nights after he got home from his “day job”, he would work the night shift at the motel often sleeping on the floor of the room adjacent to the reception so he could be ready to rent a room when a wayward traveler arrived. He was always improving the motel by remodeling the owner’s quarters and doing upgrades on the facilities at the motel.
Leonard and Sharon sold the motel in 1983 and moved to Kansas City, before eventually settling in Arlington, Texas. In 1986, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. None of his doctors believed that he had any chance to survive, but he lasted more than 30 years beyond his treatment. In 1995, he built The Sanford House and lived there with Sharon, for 5 years, managing the business. The Sanford House was a source of great pride and accomplishment. In 2001, they retired from management of The Sanford House. They enjoyed being involved in all the activities of their grandchildren and later caring for their great granddaughters now ages 3 months and 2 years. They traveled to many states and countries, often visiting Hamburg, Germany, where his younger son, Jay Bergstrom lives and works as an artist and a translator.
In September, 2018, Leonard was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and although he responded extremely well to the chemotherapy, he developed congestive heart failure and became tired of the struggle to physically get around. On Feb. 5, 2019, he got up, got dressed, and shaved but decided to go back and lie in his bed. Within 36 hours he died peacefully at home.
He loved having his two great granddaughters coming almost daily for the past two years. Their enthusiastic energy kept him going much longer than anyone expected.
Our Dad was the person who would always give the shirt off of his back or his last nickel to someone who needed it more. He will be missed greatly, but he imparted a great work ethic and his constant reminders of “Do it right the first time”, “Never make someone else do your work”, “Enjoy life every day because you can’t live yesterday over” were steady advice to his children and grandchildren. We will always be grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of his life.
He was preceded in death by his son, Jeffrey Dean Bergstrom.
Survivors: He is survived by his wife Sharon Bergstrom, his daughter, Dr. Joan Bergstrom and her husband Dr. John McDonald, and their 3 daughters, Valerie Landry and her husband Christopher Landry, Michelle McDonald, and Camille McDonald, his son, Jay Bergstrom and his wife Michele Guillaneau-Bergstrom, and his great granddaughters, Vivian Landry and Arya Landry.
Wade Family Funeral Home