Harriet Sternquist

Harriet Eleanor Berg Sternquist was born in Clay County, South Dakota on Sept. 7, 1921 to parents Victor and Augusta (Norder) Berg.  She passed away Feb. 3, 2012 in Beresford.  She left behind the love of her life Orland Leonard Sternquist, whom she married in 1943.


She was born on the Clay County farm her grandfather homesteaded in 1869. She was proud the farm remained in the family for over 140 years and continues to be cared for by her son and grandson. She was the youngest of five and took great glee in reminding her sisters that she thought she was her father's favorite.

Harriet attended Dalesburg Grade School. Her grandfather donated the school's site because it was "necessary for the education of the children." She was baptized and confirmed at Dalesburg Lutheran Church. She attended University High School and received a teaching certificate from the University of South Dakota. She then returned to Dalesburg Grade School to teach. She also taught at the Newdale School. She went on sabbatical to marry and raise four children on the family farm. Her children's education was always important to her.

One of her frequently recalled memories was a trip to the East coast to perform for the King of Sweden with her brother Harlan and the Dalesurg Band. She continued to play her oboe and years later resurrected the Dalesburg Band at the annual Midsommer picnic.

She remained active in all aspects of Dalesburg Lutheran Church teaching Sunday school, working with the Couples Club and served as chairwoman of the WELCA. She and Orland loved the Midsommer picnic and would dress in their Swedish costumes for the event. They were active in the Friends of Midsommer organization and enjoyed socials and birthday parties with all the neighbors. She returned to USD and was the first in her family to earn a bachelor's degree. She taught grade school in the Beresford School District for 18 years. She loved her students and that love was reciprocated. Former students frequently approached the family at the Bethesda Nursing Home cafeteria and informed her family that she was a wonderful teacher.

After retirement, Harriet and Orland spent 28 winters in Texas. Along with their friends from the Dalesburg community, they found new friends from other parts of the Midwest. With many friends in the same place it was more like the Dalesburg community had moved to Texas to evade the cold. Harriet would play the piano and Orland would sing.

They enjoyed camping. They were outgoing and made many friends at those campgrounds near and far. They taught their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren various card games and many life lessons on their camping forays.

Anyone who came to their house was offered a cup of coffee. In later years as Alzheimer's stole her from her family, old habits remained. On one occasion when she was still living in their Beresford home she needed to go to the hospital in the early morning hours. Ambulance personnel were called to their home and with them came police and firemen who congregated in the living area. As they brought her from the bedroom to the living room, she saw the men and turned on the gurney and said "Orland, put the coffee on. We've got company."

She is survived by the love of her life, Orland Sternquist. Her four loving children are Sheridan (Phyllis), Centerville, Alan (Elaine), Pleasanton, CA, John (Nancy), Yankton, and Brenda, Haslett MI. Her six grandchildren are Jeff (Karen) Sternquist, David (Michelle) Sternquist, Jodi (Rob) O'Keefe, Jill Sternquist (Jason Nelson), Corrie Sternquist and Gavin Witter. Her six grandchildren are Megan Sternquist, Mallary Sternquist, Brianna Sternquist, Mason Sternquist, Easton and Xavier Nelson. She has one great-great granddaughter Natalie Sternquist. Her two sisters-in-law are Wilma Holmstrom of Robbinsdale MN, and Arla Roduner of Alcester, she also has many nephews, cousins and a host of friends.

Harriet is preceded in death by her parents; two sisters, Doris Bangs and Hazel Imbrecht; and two brothers, Ben and Harlan Berg; and one sister-in-law, Marion Sternquist.

Funeral services were held 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 at Dalesburg Lutheran Church, rural Vermillion, with burial to follow in the church cemetery.  Visitation was Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. with family present from 6 to 8 p.m. and a prayer service at 7 p.m. at Wass Funeral Home in Beresford.

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