John Jacob Bergstrom

November 29, 1925 - March 17, 2011

John Jacob Bergstrom, 85, of McKinney, TX, passed away March 17, with his family at his side. He approached death as he did life, with dignity, wisdom, and love and concern for those around him. He was born in Waterloo, IA, November 29, 1925, to the late Daniel and Johanna Bergstrom. After graduating from West High School in Waterloo, he joined the Navy at 17. He married the love of his life, Jo Ann Straight, in 1946. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, he taught math and science in Rolfe, Iowa, while doing graduate work at the University of Iowa in the summers. He then taught in Burlington, Iowa, before taking a job at Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation in Waterloo in 1954. He rose from mathematician to General Manager of Research and Development before moving to corporate headquarters in Chicago in 1974 to become Vice President and then President, living in Palatine, Illinois. Whether visiting one of the company’s many divisions in the United States, meeting with senators and Five Star Generals, or working with dignitaries and business leaders in other countries, he was fair, unassuming, thoughtful and kind. He cast a loving powerful light on those he loved and those he mentored. At his retirement party in 1991, he was praised for his vision, intelligence, integrity and leadership. He was proud of his roots in Iowa and Denmark. He was known for his devotion and love for his wife; and his boundless pride and love for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was a member of the American Defense Preparedness Association National Board of Directors, serving as secretary for ten years. He was inducted into the Ordnance Hall of Fame in 1997, “in recognition of truly significant achievements and contributions to the Ordnance Corps mission and the United States Army” -- the first civilian to be so honored. He spent his retirement years with his wife in McKinney, TX, where he enjoyed his community, especially his Wednesday lunch group called ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out). He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Russell and Robert Bergstrom, his sister Esther, and his life-long friend Bob Fowler. He is survived by his wife Jo Ann (Straight) Bergstrom; his daughter Becky (Bill) Forsberg of Austin, TX; his daughter Lori (Tom) Ruhlman of Skaneateles, NY; grandson Chad (Suzie Kerr) Forsberg of Dallas; granddaughter Jennifer Forsberg Bernardin (Guerin) of Austin, TX; granddaughter Jessica (Matthew) Shoaff, of Providence, RI; and Grandson Daniel Ruhlman of Houston, TX; sisters Ruth Hileman of Florida, Dorothy Hess of Waterloo, Iowa, and Joanne Heath of Cedar Falls, Iowa; three great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews. There will be a celebration of his life at an as yet undetermined time. The family requests no flowers. Contributions may be made to HospicePlus of Dallas, TX, or to the American Cancer Society for research, A memorial will be held in Iowa this summer. A local (Texas) gathering to celebrate the life of John Jacob Bergstrom will be held at the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, 7003 Beacon Hill Road, in McKinney, at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend, as a headcount is needed by April 1. Address: Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, 7003 Beacon Hill Road, McKinney, TX 75070

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There are experiences, moments in life that one never forgets. They stay with us as though it was just yesterday. One of those for me was the night I met John. It was my first date with Becky, and his greeting at the front door on Merner street was ..... memorable. With very few words, and mostly with just his presence, he set the groundwork for my relationship with his daughter. Over some years I enjoyed many Cokes with John and Jo Ann. Jo ann - you and John were a positive influence on my teen age years. Thank you. Becky - I'm sorry for your loss. His influence lives on. Tom Cantine, April 11, 2011 I worked with John for many years at Chamberlain Corp., Waterloo R&D. As a boss he was inspirational and a excellent warhead designer. I have very fond memories of traveling with John to the Mason City Test Site. I especially remember a steak joint there that we frequently went to called "Pete's" and the poker we played afterwards. We will miss him a lot. God bless him, and our sincere condolences to both you and the family. Gary & Jo Gary & Jo Ann Nelson, April 7, 2011 Dear Mrs. Bergstrom, My dad (Bill McMurray) and I are so saddened to hear about John. I have many fond memories of your brick house on College St. Didn't Lori come to Minnesota with us once, for summer vacation? We look forward to seeing you this summer, for the memorial service in Iowa. Sue McMurray Hummel, March 29, 2011