Donald L. Berg, 1956

Spring 2021 (May 13, 2021)

Donald L. Berg, age 86, of Decorah, Iowa, died Jan. 10, 2021, at Barthell O.E.S. Home in Decorah.

Private Family Graveside Services will be in Union Prairie Cemetery in rural Decorah at a later date with Pastor Amy (Zalk) Larson ’96 officiating.

Pastor Donald LaVerne Berg was born Dec. 14, 1934, to Victor and Bertha (Hanson) Berg at their farm home near Coon Valley, Wis. He was the seventh of nine children. The family moved to a farm near the village of West Prairie, Wis., where Don grew up. He attended Twalt School (grades 1-8) rural Viroqua and graduated from Viroqua High School as valedictorian in 1952. He graduated from Luther College in 1956 with majors in Physics and Math. He worked one year at General Mills, Minneapolis, before starting Luther Seminary. His year of internship was at First Lutheran Church, Minot, N.D.

Don married Barbara Jane Hamre on Sept. 4, 1960, at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church. He graduated from Luther Seminary in 1961 and was ordained at Northwest Prairie Lutheran Church, rural Viroqua in June 1961. He had accepted a call to Siloam Lutheran Church in Paullina, Iowa. Their son, John Daniel, was born Oct. 3, 1961. They lived in Paullina three years.  Other parishes he served: 1964-1973 Rock Creek Lutheran Church, rural Osage, Iowa, 1973-1980 Elim Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran Parish, Randall/Story City, Iowa.

In 1980, Don, Barb, and John had a sabbatical in Europe, including the Passion Play in Oberammergau and “Martin Luther Land” in East and West Germany. Don did independent study about Hans N. Hauge while Barb attended weaving school in Fagernes, Norway, and John saw most of the rest of Southern Europe. Returning to the United States, they lived in Decorah. Don served various congregations as an interim/supply pastor (1980-1987): St. Luke Lutheran Church in Nora Springs, St. John Lutheran Church in Arlington, Old East and Old West Paint Creek Parish in rural Waukon, Elgin Lutheran and Highland Lutheran Parish, Elgin/Elkader, Glenwood and Canoe Ridge Lutheran Parish in rural Decorah, Zion Lutheran and Crane Creek Lutheran Parish in Alta Vista, Waterville Lutheran and Our Savior’s Lutheran Parish in Waterville/Lansing - all churches in Iowa.

In 1987-1997 Don returned to full-time ministry in Minnesota at Moland Lutheran Church in rural Kenyon, paired with chaplaincy at Kenyon Sunset Home. They retired to Decorah and he worked at Quillian’s (at the suggestion of our Bishop), but he continued preaching in some long-term supply situations: Salem U.C.C. in rural Waukon, East Clermont Lutheran Church in rural Clermont, Stavanger Lutheran Church in rural Ossian, St. John Lutheran Church (Locust) in rural Decorah, Hauge Lutheran Church in rural Decorah, plus a few scattered others.

Travel had been a blessing over the last 50 years with Barb: 1970 - Israel, 1973 - Norway and Sweden, 1980 - Sabbatical in East and West Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Norway, Denmark. In 1983, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2015, he traveled with Luren Singing Society in concert tours in Norway (1993 and 2015 Barb went too).

In retirement, Don was active in various community organizations and groups: Habitat for Humanity, Vesterheim as a guide, Sons of Norway, Luren Singers, Nordic Fest Board, and Symra.  He had served on Boards for Lutheran nursing homes in Spencer, Osage and Story City (all in Iowa), and he served on the Board of Bremwood Children’s Home. He was a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Decorah.

Preaching was Don’s gift. He shared the Gospel well. He was a “word” person. For 30 years he was the editor of Sanger-Hilsen (Singers greeting) published bi-monthly by the Norwegian Singers Association of America. His assistant in recent years was Dennis Barnaal. He got his first book printed in 2020; a translation from Norwegian, long title: “60 Year Journal 1865-1925 of Tollef Svennungsen, Immigrant from Telemark.” It is supplemented with letters and genealogical materials and relevant pictures. He continued to translate projects, large and small until the day he had a stroke. That occurred on Dec. 21, 2020.  He died in hospice care at Barthell O.E.S. Home in Decorah on January 10, 2021.

Don is survived by his wife, Barbara; son, John and (Lori) Berg of Ames, Iowa; grandchildren; Heather (Berg) and Jon Saxton of West Des Moines, Iowa, Christi (Berg) and Josh Adcock of Des Moines, and Lucas Berg of Des Moines; great-grandchildren; Arlo Saxton, and twin girls Anara and Quinn Adcock; his siblings: Stanley and (Ceal) Berg, La Crosse, Wis., Frances (Berg) Dahlke, Stoddard, Wis., Alvin and (Lois) Berg, Oak Park Heights, Minn.; and sister-in-law Dorothy Berg-Dillonberg.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and older siblings; Selmer, Orbin, Clarence, Esther (Berg) Stokke, and Ardis (Berg) Severson.

Burial will be in Union Prairie Cemetery in rural Decorah in May with “Celebration of Life” service later, in consideration of concerns regarding Covid-19.