CONCORD- Gail Ann (Ressler) Berggren, 85, a resident of Pleasant View Retirement Community in Concord, NH, died peacefully on Jan. 12, 2021, at Concord Hospital due to COVID-19. She was born Nov. 4, 1935, at home on the family’s 169-acre farm on the outskirts of Iowa City, Iowa, the daughter Harold Arthur Ressler and Irene Amber (Moore) Ressler.
Gail and her brothers attended the Willow Grove School, a one-room rural schoolhouse for elementary school. She had a special driver’s license at age 13 so that she could drive to Kalona High School, where she was on the cheerleading squad and was also active in 4-H, winning a blue ribbon for baking and other awards at the Iowa State Fair. Gail was an expert driver who liked going fast, and she once covered the 10-mile drive to school over hilly gravel roads in under 10 minutes, setting a family record. She was one of just 12 students in her high school’s 1954 graduating class and was salutatorian.
Her family’s life revolved around the hard work of tending the farm, where they grew corn and oats, raised dairy cows, sheep and pigs, grew most of their own food and harvested timber. Their home had no electricity or running water and when she was 12, Gail helped tear down their old house and build a modern home.
Following high school, she enrolled at the University of Iowa briefly and transferred to Iowa State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1958, focusing on home economics and physical education. She had a lifelong interest in nutrition and healthy eating, and the remarkable discipline to limit herself to the smallest piece of her favorite treat, dark chocolate, every day.
After graduation, she taught home economics in high schools in Mason City and Ankeny, Iowa, for a total of four years. She and Jerome (Jerry) Fredine Berggren were married in 1959, and when he graduated from Iowa State in 1961, they followed his career as an upcoming engineer with General Electric. His work led to many moves across the country, including Vermont, Illinois, Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma, New York, Ohio, Georgia and Connecticut before retiring in Vermont. Gail and Jerry loved the outdoors, including downhill skiing, hiking, canoeing, sailing and camping. Gail was also an avid tennis player and a member of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, winning several championships with her doubles’ partners.
When she and Jerry retired to Thetford, VT, they became active in the Upper Valley Camera Club, and Gail also volunteered at the public library in Norwich, VT. She worked in several part-time jobs over the years and was a volunteer 4-H leader, but she considered her most important role to be teaching life skills and character to her three children. Gail was known throughout her life for her kind, gentle and encouraging manner and tremendous work ethic. She truly loved meeting people from all walks of life and had a special gift for identifying qualities in everyone that she would admire and compliment.
She was predeceased by her husband, Jerome (Jerry) Fredine Berggren, and her oldest brother, Eugene Ressler. She is survived by her brother, Harold Kay Ressler and his family, in southern California; her three children, and their families, including: Eric Berggren and his wife, Susan, of Exeter, England; Linnea and David (Carter) Berggren of Arlington, MA; and Christine (Berggren) Graham and Jim Graham of Concord, NH; and five grandchildren.
A virtual memorial service will be held online on Zoom on Feb. 27, 2021. To get the Zoom link, please email: email@example.com for details. Donations may be made in Gail’s memory to http://www.willinghands.org/
The Petit Roan Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. To view an online tribute or to leave a message of condolence please visit www.petitroan.com
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