Lester Vanden Berg was born December 1, 1928 to Teunis and Elizabeth (Nicolay) at the family home near Brooten, MN. When he was one year old, Les’ family moved to a farm near Edgerton. The seventh of nine children, he was the youngest boy, and two sisters were born after him. He completed 8 years of school, starting in a country school and then attending Edgerton Christian Elementary School. Many conversations with Les included stories of the good ole days at school.
As a young adult, Les worked for area farmers and started working winters at John Morrell in Sioux Falls before he joined the US Army. He served in the Korean War as Staff Sergeant/Combat Medic Squad Leader from 1951 – 1952. After his honorable discharge, he worked for a local farmer before starting his lifelong love of farming on his own. He rented land for 19 years before purchasing farm ground near Edgerton.
On June 3, 1953 Les married Janette Gelling from Springfield, SD. They had become acquainted through his sister Henrietta when she and Janette were roommates while attending Northwestern College. Les and Janette became close through exchanging letters while Les was in the Korean War. Their marriage was blessed with six children. In 1972, Janette was diagnosed with cancer, and after a four-year battle, she went home to her Savior on May 17, 1976.
On July 6, 1977, Les married Beth (De Boer) Fey. Along with their marriage, she brought five children into the family for a total of 11. The youngest five attended high school together that first year. In 2001 they moved into Edgerton. Les continued to farm until he was 82. Les and Beth enjoyed traveling and spending time with friends, family, and relatives, including the many grandchildren born into the family.
Les was a lifelong member of the First Christian Reformed Church in Edgerton where he served multiple terms as both elder and deacon. Over 16 years, he volunteered 3,516 hours repairing wheelchairs at Edgerton’s Hope Haven Industries. Time, prayer, and passion also poured from Les for 15 years as a mentor through the M-2 Prison Ministry, and he also served on many other mission projects. He enjoyed playing dominoes, pool, and doing puzzles. Checkers was a favorite game, and he won the vast majority of times he played. He gave tips to very few competitors, aside from saying “you can win if you cry” or “you just have to think ahead.” Les was always game to enjoy ice cream with his grandkids.
On October 28, 2015, Les entered Edgebrook Care Center after injuries from a fall. He enjoyed visitors, puzzles, games, and hands-on activities. He was a resident there until passing away peacefully on January 22, 2021 at the age of 92 years, 1 month, and 21 days.
Les is lovingly remembered by his wife, Beth, of 43 years and his children: Duane (Rosann) Vanden Berg, Peter Vanden Berg, Joann (Darwin) Schelhaas, all of Edgerton, Melvin (Brenda) of Pipestone, Gene (Thelma) Vanden Berg of Spokane, WA, Janette (Grant) Clausen of Schleswig, Iowa; his step children: Rick (Karen) Fey of Edgerton, Roxanne (Al) Nieboer of Kalamazoo, MI, Randy (Jan) Fey of Edgerton, Roll (Cheryl) Fey of Hurst, Texas, Rosemari (Dennis) Kroll of Edgerton; his last surviving sibling/sister, Johanna Sankey; sisters-in-law Tiena Zondervan and Wilma Wissink, as well as Beth’s siblings and their spouses. Les was blessed with 34 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren.
Les was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife—Janette, one granddaughter—Tonya Vanden Berg, five brothers—Henry, Art, Rich, Jim, Jake, and two sisters—Grace Schuit and Henrietta Elbers, and many in-laws.
In a sincere yet fun-loving way, Les would say, “Be good to you” to all his family and friends gathered to celebrate his life.
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