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Tillie Berg, 100 Print E-mail
Written by TRF Times   
    Thief River Falls - Tillie Berg, 100, died peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at Thief River Care Center in Thief River Falls.
    Funeral services were held  Tuesday, May 22, at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Thief Lake,  with Rev. Cheryl Berg officiating. Casket bearers included  Vernon Berg, Donald Berg, Jerome Berg, Earl Berg, Glendon McKeever, Ole McKeever, Edwin Ellefson, Melvin Ellefson and Lowell Scramstad. Honorary casket bearers included all of Tillie’s grandchildren.  Interment was held at Our Saviors Lutheran Cemetery, Thief Lake.
    Tillie Ellefson Berg was born on July 4, 1911 at home on a farm in Thief Lake Township, Marshall County.  She attended Grasslake Rural School in the Benwood area, graduating in the 8th grade. Tillie often talked of her and her siblings walking 2½ miles to school.  With her dad having a lot of chores to do, they walked most of the time, but would get a ride when the weather was bad.  She and her brother, Melvin also attended school at the old Iron Side School (or tin school) located in Marshall County, where her sister Mildred was one of the teachers.  
    Tillie’s parents were Thomas Ellefson and Julia Gregor.  They both emigrated here from Norway, with her Father coming in 1893 and her Mother in 1900. They eventually met in Marshall County where they married.  They started farming in Thief Lake Township, Marshall County.  
    Tillie grew up with one sister, Mildred, and two brothers, Edwin and Melvin.  She remembered all the hard work and fun they had as children, helping to hay, raise horses, cattle, sheep, chickens, geese, turkeys, and pigs.  Tillie and her siblings also helped to move the cattle to town to sell. Her Father and Mother would give each kid a calf in the fall to sell for spending money and she remembered once earning $9 for her calf.
    After her father passed away in 1934, Tillie and her mother moved into an apartment in Middle River where Tillie took care of her mother and did various cleaning jobs in town. Her mother then passed away in 1938.
    In 1933, Tillie met Art Berg.  The history of Art and Tillie’s first meeting centered around an old Detroiter automobile.  Art was in need of a car, and Tillie’s father, Thomas, had the Detroiter for sale. Art took a trip up north of Thief Lake one day to look at it, but it was not to his liking. He was interested in obtaining a used car, but the Detroiter was slightly older than what he had in mind and he bought a Maxwell instead.
    It happened later that Adolph Olberg was looking for a car and Art offered to take him to the Ellefson’s farm to look at the Detroiter. A deal might have transpired, as the story went, except that the car would not start. The Magneto, it seemed, had gone its distance. The men tried this and tried that, and finally for lack of any other source of power, decided to go to the house and take the dry cells out of the telephone. At this point, the entire theme of the story changed.  There was Tillie, and the sparks (not the kind that’s needed to get the motor started, but romantic sparks instead) flew.
    Art and Tillie were married April 15, 1939, in Middle River, Minnesota, and they made their home in Middle River, Thief Lake Township. They were blessed with one daughter, Arline in 1941.  Tillie and Art owned and operated a farm in Como Township, Marshall County.  They lived on the farm all their married life. Together they worked hard doing mix farming, raising grain, large gardens, cattle, sheep, chickens, putting up hay for the animals, and had a dairy herd. They won the Outstanding Dairy Farmer award in 1969.  Later they went into beef farming.
    Tillie worked side by side with her husband keeping the farm running and made sure that her family always had fresh baked bread, baked and canned goods, and kept up with her housework and sewing.  In the evenings when the work was done, Tillie and her family would play games, go visiting, or play music together with Tillie on the piano and Art on the violin. On motherhood, daughter Arline commented that her mother had a firm hand but fair, and taught her many things including to respect others, family values, and that family was important. Tillie liked to make Christmas Eve very special, and always made Art’s and Arline’s birthdays special by baking their favorite cake.  She always welcomed company, and loved visiting with friends and family. When she hears that she was getting company, she would immediately start baking something and made sure fresh coffee was on.
    When Art passed away on May 17, 1986, Tillie moved to the Manor Apartments in Middle River. Her apartment was adorned with pictures of the people that meant the world to her – family and friends.  In 2004 Tillie was chosen as Middle River’s Outstanding Senior Citizen. Even though she thought she didn’t deserve that title, her family knew that it meant the world to her.  
    On July 4th, 2011 Tillie reached a milestone in attaining the amazing age of 100. She was honored as the Grand Marshall of the 2011 Goose Festival in Middle River.  Tillie always said that she loved Middle River and all of the friendly people there calling it, “The best place ever.”  Enjoying Middle River and the surrounding area all of her life, she continued to live there until 2011. She then moved into assisted living at Valley Home in Thief River Falls, all the while missing her favorite town and people.  
    Tillie’s family has numerous memories of her they hold dear to their hearts. She loved going to the farm to look around and tell them stories of life there and what she held dear.  Her grandchildren will tell you that Grandma would make sure that they knew that everything worth doing was worth putting your best effort forward.  Don’t leave things for others to do.  Finish your work, don’t complain, and enjoy family at the end of the day.  
    As Tillie always said, “Hard work, a good life and clean living has made it possible for me to enjoy a long life.”  But she would have also told you that she is not alone. She said that many people have done the same or more than she has and they all understand how it was back then.  It’s just how it was.  She thought she was ordinary.  Her family thought she was something special.  
     In May of 2012 Tillie moved to the Thief River Care Center. Tillie loved and was loved, and will be missed by many as we remember a life well lived as a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and friend.   
    Tillie is survived by her loving daughter, Arline Jesme of Thief River Falls; grandchildren, Joni Fletty of Falcon Heights, Donna (Terry) Mosher of Tower, James (Shannon) Jesme of Thief River Falls, John (Tina) Jesme of Britt; great-grandchildren, Aaron Fletty, Evan Fletty, Kara (Paul) Starkovich, Brandon Mosher, Kayleigh Jesme, Evelyn Jesme, Gunnar Jesme, Mikayla Jesme, and Rylan Jesme; great-great-granddaughter, Sophia Starkovich; nieces, Vi McKeever Anderson, Carol Berg, and Christa Berg, as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.
    Preceding her in death are her husband, Arthur; son-in-law, Harold Jesme; sister, Mildred (Glen) McKeever; brothers, Edwin (Margaret) Ellefson and Melvin (Lillian) Ellefson; nephews, Ralph McKeever, Roger Berg, and Douglas Berg; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Ernest (Alma), Ralph (Pauline), Richard, Ted, Esther (Lee) Morris, Irene (Otto) Peters, Julia (Dutch) Ebenritter.
    Family condolences may be sent to www.johnsonfuneralservice.com.
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