Orland Sternquist

The celebration of the life of Orland Sternquist was at the Dalesburg Lutheran Church 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, 2012 .  He left this earth April 7, 2012 to join his wife Harriet for a cup of coffee and a piece of double crust pie in their motor home in Heaven. He was born Dec. 27, 1921 in Alcester to Leonard and Ellen (Carlson) Sternquist. He was the third of four children and the only boy. He grew up on the family farm with his dog Jack at his side. He was baptized and confirmed his faith at Nathaniel Lutheran church in rural Alcester. He attended Cole grade school and Alcester High School.  He then took his place on the farm during the "Dirty 30's." A handsome and dashing young man in his '36 Chevy; he romanced a girl from Clay County in the early 40's and married Harriet Eleanor (Berg) in 1943 at the Dalesburg Lutheran Church.


They farmed near Alcester and began their family. In 1947, Harriet's father died and Orland moved his family to Clay County to take over the Berg family farm. He served on the Dalesburg School Board for many years. He was active in the Dalesburg Lutheran Church serving on the council, organizing activities with the Couples Club and adorned in their Swedish costumes he and Harriet participated in Midsommer celebrations throughout their lives.

His children remember him as a man of honesty and good intent. He taught life lessons by example. One of the lessons learned from Orland was to never give up. One never actually heard him say as much, that would not be his style. He simply lived the credo that if something doesn't work out, try again. As a philosopher would put it, his actions were so loud you couldn't hear what he was saying. It isn't how many times you are knocked down but how many times you rise after a set back, dust yourself off and try again that makes you a success.

His idea of swearing was to say, "It makes me so stinking mad." It was rarely heard. Later in his life the phrase became his comic relief. His children remember that although his formal education was incomplete he was the best speller of the family and probably the smartest.

In the 1960s, he developed incurable vision problems which left him legally blind. Rather than act disabled, with his peripheral vision he continued to farm. One of his sons helped with the corn planting. Later that year one could see to the row where the son's rows were followed by Orland's straight rows, an indication that some things are done with an innate sense of correctness. As his eldest son Sheridan took over the farm operation Orland rebuilt old John Deere tractors. His visual problems made it difficult to recognize faces and he fretted that people would think him uncaring because he sometimes couldn't recognize them.

He loved to go camping in their motor home where they would teach grandchildren and great-grandchildren card games and life lessons. They wintered in Texas and treasured the many friends they made and maintained in that community. He loved to sing, his tenor voice filling the nave of the church or the gathering hall in Texas accompanied by his constant companion and pianist, his wife Harriet. His later years were occupied tending to Harriet who died just two months ago. Alzheimer's took her mind leaving her with little, if any, memory of the man who stood by her, holding her hand physically and metaphorically, for 69 years.  We imagine Harriet saying, "Well Orland, I didn't think I would see you so soon, but I'm glad to have the company." They were each other's only true love, and it lasted a lifetime.

We celebrate Orland Sternquist as a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, brother and friend. He is survived by two sisters, Wilma Holstrom of Robbinsdale, MN, Arla Rodner of Alcester; four children, Sheridan (Phyllis) of Centerville, Alan (Elaine) of Pleasanton, CA, John (Nancy) of Yankton and Brenda Sternquist of Haslett, MI; six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. His parents, wife and sister Marion Sternquist preceded him in death.

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