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Mrs. Halkaline Kirk Bergsten, widow of Reverend Carl A. Bergsten, died on Nov. 3, 2012m at Oakridge Convalescent Home of Plattsburg of complications from a fall suffered a week earlier. She was born on Oct. 21, 1905, and had just celebrated her 107th birthday with her son Fred, daughter-in-law Virginia, nieces Gerry Fry Hall and Page Kirk Campbell and their husbands Frank and Bud, and vicariously through a service held in honor of her birthday at the Broadway United Methodist Church.

Mrs. Bergsten is survived by her son, C. Fred Bergsten and his wife Virginia Wood Bergsten of Annandale, Va., and her grandson, Dr. Mark David Bergsten and his wife Suzanne Graham Bergsten of Chesapeake, Va.  She had six siblings, all of whom predeceased her, and a host of nieces and nephews.  Three of her siblings were long-time residents of Plattsburg:  Clyde Kirk, Camilla Kirk Fry and Robert Kirk.

Mrs. Bergsten was born to Theophilus and Adella G. Shull Kirk and grew up in Plattsburg.  She graduated from Plattsburg High School in 1923, as valedictorian of her class of twenty, a championship debater and winner of the Ellis Essay Contest, and a varsity basketball player.  She attended Central College (now Central Methodist University) in Fayette and graduated in 1927, then taught high school for two years in Chetopa, Kansas. She married Reverend Carl A. Bergsten in 1929, after he had graduated from Yale Divinity School, and lived for the next twenty-six years in the locations of his pastorates in Connecticut and New York.  During this period, she traveled with him to the Holy Land in 1931 and to the United Kingdom for an exchange pastorate in 1951.

The Bergstens returned to Missouri in 1955, and lived successively in Farmington, St. Louis and Chillicothe. They re-settled in Plattsburg in 1963 when Rev. Bergsten assumed a position with the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church that required him to travel extensively throughout the United States.

Mrs. Bergsten played a major role in the life of all the churches that they served throughout this period.  Granted a local preacher’s license, she became interim pastor of their church in Wethersfield, Connecticut when her husband took a leave of absence to study abroad.  She frequently preached herself and presented dramatic readings, led women’s organizations and youth groups, and traveled with her husband throughout his almost two decades of leading crusades at United Methodist churches in thirty-six different states.

Reverend Carl Bergsten died in 1991, at the age of 90, and Mrs. Bergsten lived alone in their Plattsburg home until early 2006, when she was more than 100 years old.  She remained active in the Broadway United Methodist Church and was a regular attendee at the Senior Center, where she particularly enjoyed the weekly games of pitch.  More than a hundred of her friends and relatives visited Plattsburg to celebrate her 100th birthday in 2005 and a smaller group joined to honor her 105th in 2010.  The last of her many spiritual publications, mostly in The Upper Room (of the United Methodist Church) and The War Cry (of the Salvation Army) was written when she was 98 and appeared in print when she was 102. When Willard Scott recognized her 104th birthday on the NBC Today Show in 2009, he commented that she was the only “Halkaline” he had ever encountered in all his years of making such announcements.

Mrs. Bergsten’s funeral was held at the Broadway United Methodist Church on Friday, at 1 p.m.  Burial at Greenlawn Cemetery and a reception at the church followed.  Reverend Jan Schreff, former pastor of Broadway United Methodist, presided with eulogies to be delivered by C. Fred Bergsten, President Marianne Inman of Central Methodist University and several friends of the deceased.  

Memorial contributions in honor of Halkaline may be made to Broadway United Methodist Church, 301 Broadway, Plattsburg, MO  64477 or to Central Methodist University, 411 CMU Square, Fayette, MO  65248.

As Halkaline had requested, this obituary was modeled on that of Mrs. Adella G. Shull Kirk, Halkaline’s mother, who died on Aug. 8, 1956.

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