The founder of Pasco’s Bergstrom Aircraft died Sunday from complications of ALS.
Karl A. Bergstrom, 82, died at The Chaplaincy’s Hospice House in Kennewick.
He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, two years ago.
Malin Bergstrom said Monday that it’s kind of tough to sum up everything that was her father.
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“He was quite the guy; one of a kind,” she said.
Karl Bergstrom was born in Stockholm, Sweden, where he discovered his passion in the mechanical trades and went to work for the Swedish airline, TransAir.
Elenor Bergstrom convinced her husband to immigrate with their young daughter, Anna, to the United States in 1965 to pursue the American dream. They settled in the Tri-Cities.
After getting his aircraft maintenance certification and pilot’s license at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Karl Bergstrom went to work as chief mechanic for Tri-City Airways at the Pasco airport in 1968.
The husband-and-wife team opened their own aircraft maintenance shop in 1971, which was incorporated into Bergstrom Aircraft in 1975. That was followed by the addition of jet refueling services, flight instruction, aircraft rental and sales, and charter services.
We had to remind him many times when he worked that you have to send a bill out after working on the airplane. He didn’t like to be bothered with that kind of stuff. He just liked to fix stuff and make people happy.
Malin Bergstrom about her late father, Karl Bergstrom
The couple moved to Pasco 12 years ago after living in Kennewick for nearly four decades.
Karl Bergstrom retired in the last five years, but remained a presence at the airport visiting with employees and saying “Hi” to the customers, Malin Bergstrom said. Elenor Bergstrom also is retired but stays involved in the business, she said.
Malin Bergstrom is president of Bergstrom Aircraft and her brother, Daniel, is vice president and operations manager.
“He got all his enjoyment out of helping other people and kind of saving the day sometimes when an airplane was delayed or had a maintenance problem,” Malin Bergstrom told the Herald.
Karl Bergstrom would even step in to help Delta, United and Horizon at the adjacent Tri-Cities Airport by fixing their airplanes so they could get back on schedule safely, she said.
She described her father as a private and humble person, who didn’t look for awards, recognition or money.
“We had to remind him many times when he worked that you have to send a bill out after working on the airplane. He didn’t like to be bothered with that kind of stuff,” she said. “He just liked to fix stuff and make people happy.”
In addition to his wife of 58 years and their three children, Bergstrom is survived by six grandchildren, a brother and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins in Sweden.
Malin Bergstrom said the family is going to honor her father’s wish for no funeral service.
However, they are planning to have a “celebration of life party” at Bergstrom Aircraft in July. They are trying to pick a date that works for the many out-of-town friends and relatives.