Westberg, Hilding Albert Wallace “Wes” (1917-2008)

Hilding Westberg (Wes) died April 3, 2008 at the age of 90.

On Aug. 29, 1917, Hilding Albert Wallace Westberg was born on a farm near Kennedy, Minn. He was the first of eight children born to Per Olof and Nellie (Peterson) Westberg, Hilding drove cars and farm equipment at an early age, claiming that he drove nearly accident free for over 70 years.

His early working years were spent on his uncle’s farm, doing a variety of chores, but all the while striving to leave the farm, never to return. He learned carpentry and other useful household tips from his father, talents that would come in handy in later years.

He graduated from Hallock High School in 1936. After graduation, he toured the west with his Uncle Hermann Peterson in a Model-T Ford, a trip that eventually led him and his family to move to Phoenix, AZ.

He enlisted in the Navy Nov. 13, 1940, spending much of World War II in aircraft engine maintenance, being assigned to USNTS, Great Lakes, Ill, Burbank, Ca., Panama, and Norfolk, Va. He was very proud of servicing PBY Catalinas.

In 1942 while on leave, Hilding met Florence Eleanor Lindstrom from Strandquist, Minn. They corresponded for a year before marrying in Kennedy, June 8, 1944. Their early married years were spent in military housing or separated during Hilding’s military stints or training.

With an honorable discharge in Jan. 1947, Hilding transitioned to civilian life, graduating from the Minnesota School of Business, Minneapolis, Nov. 1948, and in 1949 started the Westberg Insurance Agency in Warren, Minn. Five children later, he moved the family to Phoenix and pulled into the valley without air conditioning, late afternoon, Aug. 11, 1961, of a 116 degree monsoon day.

Hilding worked for nearly 40 years in insurance sales, started a new career in his 70s after coursework in tax accounting, worked for his son for ten years, and finally reluctantly retired only a few years shy of his 90th year. He enjoyed living with his son and family. The excitement and bustle of living with his grandchildren kept him young and interested in continuing his life in spite of cancer and chemotherapy.

His hobbies included his grandchildren, coin collecting, travel, keeping up with family activities and chatting on the phone with family and friends. He enjoyed playing the lottery (Powerball or Quick Picks) and reading the Minnesota local papers or the local obits-he would remark, “Mine’s not in there today!” He was Past President of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Board for two terms, as well as, greeting and ushering at service. He was a member of the American Legion, Vasa and Our Saviour’s Primetimers.

Survivors include brother Delwin (Lise), Colorado Springs, Colo., and sisters, Olive Blake, Plymouth, NH; and Jeanette Johnston (Cameron), Moscow, Idaho; five children, Karen (Phil) Mitsueda, Redding, Calif.; Susan Westberg, Columbus, Ohio; Rebecca Westberg (Art Shulman), Los Angeles, Calif.; John (Sindi) Westberg, Phoenix; Katherine (Kirk) Denbow, Show Low; ten grandchildren, Kristen and Kevin Denbow; Carrick, Ersson, and John Bartle; Barrett, Paige, Greta, Orson and Astrid Westberg; and two great-grandchildren, Timothy and Corwin Hunt.

He was proceeded in death by his wife of 56 years, Florence, his parents, his brothers: Arthur, Walter, and Henning, and his sister: Mary Anne Mickelsen.

[Interred Mamrelund cemetery]

Transcribed by: Cheryl Srnsky