My lifelong friend, Hans Bertelsen called me this morning to inform me that his father, and my former Scoutmaster, was close to the edge of eternity. He thought I might like to know.
He was right. When I graduated from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts, Mr. Bertelsen was the no nonsense Scoutmaster with a short clipped crew cut haircut.
It was only years later that I realized the true lessons taught by this WW2 vet, were concepts, of integrity, honesty, and doing things simply because it was the ‘right’ thing to do.
Aug 2, 2012
Hans called with news that his Dad had passed peacefully in Arizona yesterday.
Neils Bertelsen was my scoutmaster. The leader of Troop 237, he ran a taunt ship. I had moved from the Cub Scouts into the Boy Scouts when I turned 11 years old. From Pack 237, I became a Boy Scout in 1960, the year that Kennedy ran against Nixon.
He was a no nonsense taskmaster, as the Scoutmaster and ingrained values such as honesty, integrity, reputation, and cooperation into his troop of pre-pubesent men. This was a marvelous indoctrination into the values of the 'greatest generation'. Mr. B was the general of the troop, even over the other adult leaders. Everyone, knew who the top brass was. Once when another scout was treating me unfairly in a required skill of tracking, with the backing of his dad, who was also an adult volenteer,Mr B, as supreme court, ruled in my favor in the dispute, and allowed me to advance to the next level of accomplishment within the scouts, second class, I believe.
The Bertelsen's were also members of the First Lutheran Church in Inglewood, at the corner of Queen and Oak, as was my grandmother, Esther, and my cousins; the Gieszl's.
Beach Camp, Snow Camp, Desert Camp, Mountain were the backgrounds for these lessons in discipline, team work, competition, survival, first aid, and resourcefulness.
My last contact with this great American was in a letter I sent him in December 2008.
Godspeed, my Scoutmaster