||[Nov. 9th, 2003|08:55 pm]
Robert Bergquist, a member of the monthly meeting I attend, died last night. He was at least 90 (I don't know how old he was), and had been in a nursing home for the past few months -- up until then he had been relatively healthy and active. When I began attending meeting about 10 years ago, Bob was very friendly to me, and always made a point of saying he was glad to see me. We were members of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee together, and I learned a lot from him about Quakerism and the world-wide service Quakers perform.|
I don't know all of Bob's story, but I know a few things. He taught at Scattergood School in West Branch for several years. He was a faithful correspondent with friends (and Friends) around the world. He was an amateur historian, who knew nearly everything there was to know about the history of Quakers in Iowa. He often taught First Day School to young children from his own copious notes and libraries.
During World War II Bob was a conscientous objecter who did alternative service, but he also helped to renovate Scattergood -- which had been closed years before -- to serve as a home for refugees from Germany during the war. He raised a family with his wife Sarah, of whom I've only seen pictures. One of his sons died young and is buried in the cemetary across the road from Scattergood.
He was a resolutely sweet, honest, and good-humored. He was too modest to ever claim to be the heart of the meeting, but to me, if Bob was there, it was a real meeting. He was the meeting's memory, and someone who was a peacemaker within the meeting when controversies arose. He was a person whose faith in God was manifested not through preaching, but by the way he lived, and by his uncomplicated love of the natural world and people around him.
I only really knew Bob through Meeting functions, but I can't begin to say how much I will miss him. The world will be smaller without him.