Paul BergmanPaul Gothard Bergman, 64, of Two Harbors, died peacefully on Saturday, July 20, with “his girls” and his wife by his side.
Paul Gothard Bergman, 64, of Two Harbors, died peacefully on Saturday, July 20, with “his girls” and his wife by his side.
Beset for 15 years by the rare disease scleroderma, he had defied the condition, determined to continue living a full and productive life. The disease attacked his lungs, and following a three-year wait, he survived a single-lung transplant early in 2013, but this Gift of Life celebration was cut short by scleroderma renal crisis and a rogue intestinal cancer. Typical of Paul's desire to be of service to others, he has donated his body to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for education and research into this rare and ruthless disease.
Paul Bergman was born on April 30, 1949, in Two Harbors to Gothard and Alice (Fors) Bergman. A 1967 graduate of Two Harbors High school, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served two tours in Vietnam as Petty Officer, Second Class, aboard the missile cruiser U.S.S. Chicago. It was a service in which he took great pride. Returning to Minnesota, Paul worked for many years in sales at Sonju Motors, where he soon became the “go-to” guy for hundreds of clients. Here, as in life itself, his business card spoke of good will and humor and his signature of honesty and fairness. Then in 1998, Paul and his wife Jan opened the Vanilla Bean Bakery & Café in Two Harbors. Hard work in this new field didn’t stop him from keeping up his volunteer service on various civic endeavors: Chairing the Heritage and Vision Commission and the Two Harbors Small Craft Harbor Committee. He also served on the Boards of Minnesota Bakery Association, the UMD Center for Economic Development, Lake County HRA and Dialogue Committee, among others. Here, as in the business world, Paul was known always to bring a light touch to controversy, yet never to waver from his deeply held convictions. He always brought out the best in others and his positive nature never flagged. These attributes prompted voters to elect Paul to represent District 4 on the Lake County Board of Commissioners. It was another job that he loved and another one at which he excelled. While a Commissioner, he served on several commissions and committees including AEOA, ARDC, Minnesota Transportation Alliance, Lake County HRA, Knife River-Larsmont Sewer District and the Lake/St. Louis County Regional Rail Authority. Paul championed bringing broadband fiber-optic to Lake County as well as the NLX High Speed Rail System and other special projects. He was serving his second term in office at the time of his death.
Paul leaves a legacy for love of nature. While he was still able, he loved nothing better than long walks on country roads and especially enjoyed spending time with special friends at “the cabin” on George Lake.
Time spent with grandchildren was a joy to see. He was a fun grandpa because he never forgot how to “be a kid.” Paul was very proud of their accomplishments in school, activities, sports and college. Paul will be always be remembered and missed dearly.
Paul was preceded in death by his father, Gothard Bergman; brother-in-law, Mike Grunenwald; and father-in-law, Ed Frisell.
Paul is survived by his wife of 21 years, Janice (Frisell) Hassel Bergman; daughters Janet (Carl) Freund, Duluth; Jenny Bergman, Amy (Cody) Suomi, and Jacki (Tim) Rine, Two Harbors; step-children Jim (Cassie) Hassel, Pickerington, OH; Vince (Raquel) Hassel, Johnston, IA; Karen (Chris) Bowling, Moline IL; grandchildren Carley Sipper, Henry and Charlie Freund, Beth Bergman, Ellie and Jacob Benedict, Janie and Lucie Suomi, Brianna Birkland, Gavin Rine; great-granddaughter Josie Harris; step-grandchildren, Andrew, Brandon and Danielle Hassel, Max and Sydney Bowling, Sage, Sierra, Logan and Mesa Hassel; his mother Alice Bergman, Two Harbors; sisters Joan Grunenwald, Aitkin and Sharon (Brad) Drace, Irvine, CA; mother-in-law Evelyn Frisell, Two Harbors; brother-in-law Jim (Linda) Frisell, Ely; nieces Lindsay Drace; Annette (Tim) Riley; nephews Jeff and Joel Grunenwald, Adam Drace, and Todd Frisell; and the mother of his daughters Linda (John) Symons, Two Harbors.
VISITATION: 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 30, in Cavallin Funeral Home in Two Harbors
CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Visitation 10 a.m. with service at 11 a.m., Wednesday, July 31, in Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 601 Fourth Ave., Two Harbors. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Scleroderma Foundation, 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 105, Danvers, MA 01923; or the Two Harbors Area Fund, D-SACF, 324 W. Superior St., Suite 212, Duluth, MN 55802.