Author and local celebrity Eric Bergeson passed away in his home on April 6th, 2022, leaving behind a legacy of accomplishments that elevated his community.
Eric was raised in Fertile, Minnesota by Paul & Glenda Bergeson, growing up on the Bergeson Nursery, the family business founded by Melvin Bergeson in 1937. Eric graduated from Fertile-Beltrami High School in 1982. He attended Northwestern College in Roseville, MN, and received his bachelor's degree in history from the University of North Dakota in 1986. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies at Moorhead State University in 1988, he returned to UND where he earned a master's degree in history. During his undergraduate years, Eric also studied at Cambridge University in England and student taught in New Zealand.
Eric purchased Bergeson Nursery from his parents Paul and Glenda in 1997 and used his marketing talent to grow the business until selling to his brother Joe and Joe’s wife Kae Bergeson in 2014.
Eric was a budding salesman and author from an early age. His first entrepreneurial venture, selling rocks to bemused customers visiting Bergeson Nursery, was largely unsuccessful. At age ten Eric self-published the Bergeson Blab, a hand-printed newspaper that included a dubious advice column he attributed to his hapless younger sister.
Eric honed his writing skills for fifteen years writing his weekly column Down on the Farm, published in twenty area newspapers. His first published books were collections of those columns, offering wit and insight into a myriad of topics.
In 2011 Eric received a prestigious two-year Bush Fellowship to study eldercare. During his fellowship, he returned to New Zealand to research the country’s eldercare system.
Eric wrote A Treasury of Old Souls, a story-based account of his many friendships with elderly folks, to illustrate the importance of friendships between generations. He felt that older people are often misunderstood and sought in Treasury to better our knowledge of their perspective.
In 2014, Eric received the Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) endorsement for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He ran specifically to address the dire lack of adequate funding for eldercare in Minnesota. He lost, but the issue won: The State Legislature granted Minnesota nursing homes a boost of $120 million dollars in added funding during the 2015 legislative session.
Eric’s gardening books “Successful Gardening on the Northern Prairie” and “Let’s Grow” offer gardening advice specific to the alkaline soils and harsh winter climates of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Never shy of hard work, Eric promoted his gardening books with a speaking tour of North and South Dakota that included stops in over 100 towns. He also promoted his gardening books through Facebook with posts that alternated between serious garden advice and hilarious spoofs. Over 15,000 copies of his gardening books have been sold.
Eric served a five-year term as Chairman of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is the Fertile-Beltrami Community Fund’s acting chair. He also worked to establish a new assisted living facility in Fertile, his hometown.
Eric met his partner, Lance Thorn in 2004. They shared homes in Tucson and Fertile, enjoying seventeen loving years together until 2021. They remained close friends through the past year of Eric’s life.
Many remember Eric for his music. He was a talented pianist and could bang out Scott Joplin ragtime, Chopin Waltzes, and Bach fugues. His hammed-up imitations of Willie Nelson and George Jones were unfailing crowd-pleasers. He performed with the rest of the Bergeson family at each summer’s Bergeson Gardens Open House. He loved to perform at local nursing homes, always taking time to greet the residents by name.
A gifted public speaker, Eric could speak eloquently on topics from gardening to elder care at the drop of a hat. His speaking services were widely in demand.
The last two years of his life Eric fought valiantly against severe depression and anxiety. His sister, Tracie, devoted herself full time to his care during this time.
Eric was preceded in death by his mother, Glenda Bergeson. Eric is survived by his father, Paul Bergeson; sister, Tracie Bergeson; brother, Joe Bergeson; sister-in-law, Kae Bergeson, and niece, Champoo Bergeson.
The family is giving all memorial gifts to support Tracie Bergeson. You may donate directly to her at paypal.me/tazblu.
The Bergeson Family will be hosting a Celebration of Eric’s Life at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, April 24, 2022, at the Fertile-Beltrami High School gymnasium. Coffee and doughnuts will be served following the service and all are invited to stay and greet the Family.
Bergeson Nursery will be closed all day Sunday, April 24th.
The Facebook direct link to the live broadcast is:
To post and share memories of Eric through photos, videos, and stories go to the Facebook Group called Memories of Eric Bergeson at:
To send flowers to Eric's family, please visit our floral store.