Palmer Alfred “P.A.” Bergh
The day I was born, on May 9, 1934 was not at all nice. The daily local newspaper where I was born, printed a front page photo taken that day at noon that showed a view from across the street of the city hall and the city hall was not visible. The only visible thing was a very faint glimmer of light from the street light on the sidewalk in front of the building. Well, there was another visible thing. DUST. I was a dust bowl baby. Emphysema/COPD will likely be the cause of my departure from this planet. I’ve given my lungs several reasons to complain, i.e. I smoked for 48 years. I spent many joyful hours in my wood shop, convinced I didn’t need dust protection. I inhaled great amounts of various dusty things in my recent 39 years of farming, plus my years as a boy on the farm. I did not make wise choices. But, all in all, at 85 years and counting, I can’t complain. I just walk much slower. Life has been so very good to me. I was given a wonderful legacy from my parents and theirs. My grandparents were born in Norway in the 1850’s. Through them I was shown an amazing example of integrity, fortitude, humility, gratitude, and love. I was given some precious genes. Their lives gave me a model I can only aspire to.
I treasure my time growing up on the farm in South Dakota. I savor the memories of my one room country school days. I clearly remember the odor toward the end of the week of young bodies bathed only once a week, the smell of winter time wet clothes and overshoes drying on the furnace floor grate. I treasure the still lingering sweet spring smells of new growth along my mile and a half pony ride to school. The meadowlark’s song in spring can’t be recreated by mortals. This was a supremely happy time for me. Moving to town with my parents at high school time was a major event. I had no concept of town living. The halcyon times continued for me though. I had a bass singing voice that was just good enough for me to be asked to sing occasionally at various things such as wedding s and funerals. Bobbi Hunter agreed to accompany me as a pianist or organist. I soon realized that I wanted to hear her play for the rest of my life. She agreed and nothing greater has or could happen in my life. I graduated SD State College in 1957 with a BS in Mechanical engineering and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF. I had hoped to go to pilot training but one eye tested 20/30, so I went the navigator route instead. I began my active duty in Strategic Air Command in the refueling, first the KC-97, and then in the KC-135. My engineering degree enabled my escape in 1964 from SAC to the R&D business at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio where I worked on the F-111 aircraft development. In 1969 my number came up for transfer to South East Asia, flying the F-4D Phantom out of Ubon, Thailand. I was grateful to be among those who returned. Several of my friends did not. Many of us believed that the war was very badly managed at the very highest levels, particularly civilian. Following my year in SEA, I finished my military career in the F-111 with 4 years at RAF Upper Heyford, England and 4 more years at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. I then decided that 20 years of Military service was about right and I retired. Meanwhile, at about that time I realized that alcohol no longer deserved to be a part of my life, I used to say that I didn’t know if I could believe all those stories about Jesus and His miracles, that is, until I became one of his miracles. I had not known how wonderful life could be as a sober, recovering alcoholic. My inherited genes included a latent love of land and farming. Interesting coincidence opened the door to farming that has replaced alcohol as my mistress for the last 39 years. My son Dave and grandson, Ron, have taken the operation to a scale and success I had never envisioned when I tentatively jumped in at 48 years old. Meanwhile in my 50’s, I acknowledged that my sobriety was achieved only in small measure by my own efforts. I had a new understanding of spiritual faith. I was approached about accepting a call to the ministry. I considered myself just an aging farm boy, but with apprehension, I agreed to study for the Episcopal Priesthood. I was made a Priest on October 2, 1994. I was blessed to serve for 19 and a half years, until my COPD/emphysema told me it was time to hang up my collar. I don’t know words to describe the joy the journey brought me; baptizing the new born infant, joining two to become one in marriage, and yes, to stand with the grieving in the circle of death. Officiating at the marriage of seven of my grandchildren is a joy not known by very many, I am blessed.
Life has brought me so much more than I deserve. I do finish my journey with some regrets. I wish I could have been home more when my children were young. The Air Force demanded so much absence in far-away places. I allowed alcohol to dilute some of my presence when I was home. I did not fully understand how absolutely precious every single moment of my children’s lives was. I did not believe that I, too, could be vulnerable to alcohol’s ravages. Neither did I believe that I would become a terminal victim of cigarette smoking. You smokers need to understand that lungs do not repair themselves. I wish I had. I will not share as much of my wonderful family’s lives as I could have. Hardest of all, my beloved wife, Bobbi, will likely have to finish her journey alone. My task of leaving will be the easier one. Yes, I do regret my numerous mistakes and failings, but I am at peace. I trust a God who has never deserted me in times of greatest need, a God who has caused His own love to envelop me through so many show have touched my life. We don’t get do-overs, but if I could I would say more “I Love You’s”, I would adopt a more relaxed attitude and maybe have more fun. I would openly give God more credit for the love we share. We mortals did not invent love. So, at age 85, I am completely at peace and comfortable looking straight in the eye at whatever is coming next for me in the next part of my journey.
Services will be held on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. A memorial service at St James Episcopal Church, in Mountain Home will be held at 10:00AM. A memorial service at St. Michaels in Boise will be held at 2:00 PM and a final Celebration of Life with military honors will be held at the Bergh Family farm, located at 10542 Old Hwy 30, in Mountain Home will be held at 6:00 PM. Cremation was under the care of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel.
Palmer Alfred “PA” Bergh, passed away on June 10, 2019, at his home. He is survived by his wife Roberta “Bobbi”, son David and his wife Stephanie, son Steven and his wife Peggy, daughter Leslie and her husband Reed, daughter Susan and her husband Mike, 19 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and one sister.