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Calvin Berthelsen

Calvin (Cal) Berthelsen, age 92, of Aurora, passed away on Friday, May 29, 2020.

Due to the CDC restrictions in place at this time, there will only be Private family inurnment at the Aurora Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family to be designated at a later date. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.


Calvin (Cal) Berthelsen passed away on Friday, May 29, 2020 in Aurora, NE at 92 years of age. Cal was born on March 20, 1928 on the family farm near Pembina, North Dakota to James and Emma (Juhl) Berthelsen.

Cal grew up on the family farm and remained a farm boy at heart his entire life. Collecting and restoring vintage Oliver farm tractors was a particular passion for him. In later years he was a regular attendee at Old Trusty Days in Clay Center, NE where he could identify almost every piece of vintage farm machinery.

Cal served in Korea as an x-ray technician attached to a MASH unit. He was an avid photographer and spent many off-duty hours capturing candid shots of locals and the countryside. In 2015 he was proud to take part in an Honor Flight of Veterans to Washington D.C.

In the early 1960s he moved from Spirit Lake, IA to Omaha, NE to open a nursing care facility. While gathering permits for the home, he and his brother Owen - who owned a nursing home in Lincoln, NE - began tinkering to solve the problem of how to safely transfer patients in and out of bathtubs, which at that time were floor level and required attendants to physically transfer patients from their bed to a wheelchair and then from the wheelchair to the tub. Back injuries were a common, and expensive, outcome. In 1964, Cal and Owen, along with a third partner Gene Maul, designed and patented the Century Bathing System, comprised of a revolutionary wheelchair with a removable fiberglass seat and a hydraulic lift that safely transferred the patient in to a chest deep whirlpool tub. The three men believed that they had invented the machine of the century and named the fledgling company Century Mfg. Co. In 1966 the company was relocated from Lincoln to Aurora, NE and became the first manufacturing plant in the town's newly-formed industrial park.

Cal had a passion for fun that stayed with him throughout his life. As a kid he could be found playing "crack the whip" in the snowy pasture with an old car hood tied to the back of the truck. He loved water skiing, was a fearless snow skier, and a daredevil in his airboat or dune buggy. He rode motorcycles, was an accomplished private pilot, and had a particular passion for fishing, even making a lengthy trek to the arctic circle where he landed a trophy sized Arctic Char. It seemed there was never an adventure he wasn’t up for.

After the three partners sold Century, Cal "retired" and he and the love of his life, Margaret, travelled the United States in their converted "Zippity Do Da" Greyhound bus, often accompanied by Margaret's mother Claire. Once grandchildren started arriving, Cal and Margaret stayed closer to home and relocated to a farm southwest of Aurora where Cal began raising turkeys and returned to farming. It was a point of pride with him that he never had one of those cushy tractors with a cab and air conditioning. They were devoted grandparents, playing endless games and taking the grands on many adventures.

Cal was a lifelong Seventh-Day Adventist and graduated from Maplewood Academy in Minnesota. He served in many capacities in his local church and was active in the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, taking a special interest in stewardship of Platte Valley Academy in Shelton, NE where all three of his children graduated.

Cal loved spending time with his family and was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He instilled in those around him a love for gardening, farming, and skill at building and fixing almost anything.

Cal is survived by his son Loren (Saxon) Berthelsen, daughters Tara (Gary) Berthelsen and Julie (Robert) Weber, grandchildren Oliver (Georgia) Berthelsen, Myles (Madison) Berthelsen, Eliott Berthelsen, Nicholas Weber and Allyson Weber, and great grandchildren Rex and Maeve Berthelsen, as well as numerous relatives across the country. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife Margaret, brothers Harvey, Amos, Glenn, Walter and Owen, and sisters Mae and Hazel.

Rest in peace, Dad. We love you.

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