Memorial Service Eulogy 1-16-99 by Louise Eidsmoe Bertsch
We are here today to celebrate Godís gift of Noland my Dad and his 83 years of life.
Iím speaking of him from my perspective as a daughter and as the oldest child. I hope that it represents him in the many different aspects of his life. Iíll speak a little about some of his life events as he moved through his 83 years of life from 1915 to 1999, his values that helped shape me and the loves of his life. Some of this information came from the articles he wrote about his life in relation to fishing and hunting.
He was born in 1915, a year in which Europe was at war, women were struggling to get the vote, and not many people had cars yet. His first baby shoes were the high button style and his mother and aunts and grandmothers all still wore long dresses. Blanchardville, a small town in Southern Wisconsin was always a home for dad. It's where he was born of 2nd generation Norwegian parents, the only child of Henry and Helena. Its where his grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins all lived. Its such a strong family oriented community that every year there is still a reunion of his great grandfather Mellomís descendants. Dad was always interested in his Norwegian roots and in the 1970ís he took two trips to Norway, learned Norwegian and did extensive genealogy work on his ancestors. Through this work he found his cousins in Norway when he went the 2nd time. Lots of Dadís traits come from this Norwegian heritage. His love of learning,
His quiet pondering and well chosen words,
His dry humor and
Most of all his awareness of his humble beginnings and identity with all people. Being a Doctor was never a status symbol to Dad. It was a calling to service, to healing his fellow men and women. Dad did not see himself as a religious man, but in his service to others he followed Jesus, in his love of his family and his love of Godís creation he found Godís peace.
When Dad was 6 his parents followed some friends to seek new opportunities for cheap farmland in Birchwood. It was a cruel irony that they left some of the best farmland in Wisconsin for some of the worst. The edge of the blue hills in Sawyer Co is hardscrabble land where every spring a new crop of rock is exposed. They didnít have much money or material things but they were rich in friends, faith, and love of the land. Dad loved this place for its remoteness, the animals, trees, streams and lakes that were their neighborhood. Dadís one room schoolhouse was right across the road. He had good teachers and at one point finished 2 grades in one year when he was the only student in his class. The Marcon family was down the road and he and John started fishing and hunting at an early age. The family needed fish and small game to eat many times during the year but Dad never thought of this as work. Dad wrote many articles about his idealize boyhood roaming the wood and streams.
The family was a member of Trinity Luthern Church in Birchwood and Dad was confirmed there. One of his Sunday school teachers was Jim Doty. In another irony Jim was one of Dadís roommates at Heritage Manor last year. Dad was always a good boy but unlike his Dad who loved the choir and all the church service, Dad found God from a very early age in nature, in the beauty of the changing seasons, the changing day, the mystery of life and death of the animals on the farm and in the woods.
In about 1927 he started High School in Birchwood and walked several miles to and from school every day. He especially loved his science classes. His small graduating class included people who became life long friends that would meet regularly until Dad was the only one left a few years ago. The Great depression of the 1930ís interfered with any plans for college. His parents lost their farm. Meanwhile, Dad joined the Great Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the innovations of FDR for which Dad was eternally grateful. He went to Hayward for 5 years and was at the Smith Lake and Ghost Lake camps. He planted trees, fought forest fires and finally got a chance to work in the dispensary. Here he learned first aid and was inspired to become a doctor by the Camp doctor.
At age 21 in 1937 with the $400 his mother had saved he started college in Madison at the University. Needless to say Dad worked hard for his education. He told us much about those jobs. The one he talked about most was the work at the University Club in the kitchen where the Club Manager Mr. Thomas became one of his deer hunting companions.
Again history impacted Dadís life and education. Because of the coming war and the need for Doctors, his medical education was speeded up. His Sr. year in college doubled as his first year of medical school. Dad spent part of his second year in Chicago, at Lying in Hospital Learning obstetrics. This was his first exposure to big cities. He decided he did not like cities and could not wait for the day he could return to Northern Wisconsin to practice. But the war intruded.
In 1942 he met a young nurse Helen Quirk, an Irish Catholic, who loved medicine and was also working and pursuing an education. She liked the outdoors and in 1942, it did not take them very long to decide to marry. They were married at the end of Jan. in 1943 and I was born by the end of that year when Dad graduated from Medical School. By January we were all in Duluth were Dad started his Internship at Luther hospital. Mother worked and Dad had those famous intern extended days and nights. I was a hospital baby and Dad would take me during his lunch hours in the poolroom. He always said I was afraid of anyone who didnít wear white. By the end of the summer Dad was called to active duty in the Navy to finish his internship. We moved to Bremerton Washington to be near him for the next few months. When he was sent to the South Pacific to service the Seabees who were rebuilding airfields in the Philippines, Mother and I went back to Manitowoc to be near her family and wait for Noland Henryís birth.
By Christmas of 1945 the war was over and Dad got to see his 4-month-old son Noland. After a few months in St. Paul in the spring of 1946, We moved to Rice Lake where Dad opened his office above the Dime store on Main St. Down the hall were his good friends Ed Jacobson, the Gannonís, Al Liedl and Elbertís offices. By the fall of 1946 the family had our house on Marshall St. and a new baby, Thomas William. John Paul was another addition to the family in 1950. Grandma and Grandpa Eidsmoe with great grandma Loe were nearby in their log cabin in the Blue hills of Birchwood. And Dad was out Deer hunting and fishing again in his favorite place in the whole world. Although he would travel again he always said he had everything he wanted here in Wisconsin.
Over the next 40 years, through the 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís as a busy small town doctor, Dad developed a life style that contributed to his long and happy life. As a Doctor he was always concerned about keeping up with new knowledge in medicine, yet he never lost sight of the basic mysteries of life and death. He treated people. He explained what he was doing and why. He listened patiently to people. If he didnít understand something he readily sought consultation. He understood that sometimes it was peopleís hearts and minds that were hurting not their bodies. He didnít worry about when he would get paid. He made house calls. I remember one night when he followed the snowplow out to Birchwood. He complained bitterly about government regulations and paperwork that grew each year he was in practice.
His medical practice was important but it never was his whole life. He reguarly took Wed and Sat afternoons to head out to the woods or lakes to clear his mind, exercise his body and find his peace. On these trips he regularly stopped to see his parents and help them with their material needs. On Saturdays he took which ever of his children he could find to come with him fishing or hunting. I loved to row the boat for Dad while he fished for muskies. Noland and Tom liked to duck hunt with Ed Jacobson and Dad. Noland remembers a time when he and Ed tipped their boat in the cold shallow water while Dad and Tom laughed as Noland and Ed scrapped their gear off the bottom. In the 50ís the family started taking camping trips out west where Dad immersed us in his love of the history of the west. As a father he made sure that we had the resources to follow our interests. For example when Hardscrabble opened in the 50ís, Dad took me out there for my first ski trip and even put on downhill skis himself for the first and last time. That was the beginning of our familyís love of skiing. Dad and Mother in the 70ís went cross-country skiing. Dad always argued with his friend George Mattis whether it was better to snow shoe or cross country ski in the woods. They each did it their way side by side.
In the early 50ís Dad started a lifetime of September hunting trips to Wyoming with his friend Ed Jacobson. One year it was antelope, then mule deer which was where they settled because the meat was better. Dad loved the wide-open spaces and the western sheep ranchers like the Mannings. In the late 50ís and early 60ís Dad had several big hunting trips of a lifetime. Elk hunting in Wyoming, big horn sheep in Alberta and Dahl sheep in Canada or the Northwest Territories. With these trips he began to enjoy taking pictures as much as the hunt itself. He even spent several winters painting the scenes from those trips he loved. In the 70ís as we children left the nest Mother and Dad did their traveling. A trailer to Florida a few times, Alaska, Norway, and others that again satisfied their wanderlust and made them satisfied to spend their retirement in the best place on earth.
After retirement Dad began to spend more time writing articles and taking pictures for his favorite outdoor publications. He had done a little writing before, but now he took a course and worked hard to develop his writing as a new profession. He especially loved the assignments he gave to himself, covering opening at the Brule, gun safety, fly fishing, promoting the Birchwood area, pan fishing, grouse hunting, deer hunting with a bow and arrow or muzzleloader. It gave him a chuckle to think he could deduct his expenses for doing what he loved on his income taxes. Writing also filled the long winter days waiting for another opening day. He loved to share his knowledge about the outdoors and wanted others to enjoy it as much as he had.
In the 70ís Dad lost his father and about that time he began to feel his mortality and the need to be more connected to his friends at Bethany and regular worship in a community of faith. Mother and he participated in events at both the Catholic and Luthern churches. For me growing up Catholic with a Luthern father and an especially loving Luthern grandfather made me appreciate the commonality and essential characteristics of our common Christian faith. Like my Dad, I see God in Nature but I know the larger mystery of life and the love and forgiveness of Jesus and I want a stronger faith with my community. It was Dadís faith and his love of the mystery of life and death that helped his growing old. Death was his friend when he could no longer do the things he loved. He died a peaceful death. In his living and his dying he taught me many things that I hope to remember through this reflection with you. Iím sure in his graciousness he would like me to again express his gratefulness and thanks for all you have been and done for him over his last few months of life.