Letter to the Editor

Remembering Berkley

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Anyone growing up in Spirit Lake knew Berkley & Co. was established by Berkley Bedell and was the city's largest employer. My mother worked at Berkley & Co. for over 20 years as did many others. My sisters and I grew up with Berkley's kids and participated in activities with them; many of those activities under Berkley's leadership.

Tom and I got to know each other playing in rock bands through high school and our shared concern for the Iowa rock music legacy continues.

My professional career took me away from Spirit Lake for nearly 30 years, but I kept up with Berkley's congressional service and communicated with him on a couple of legislative issues. Upon my return to Spirit Lake, I was voted onto the city council and appointed to several organizations' board of directors, whereby I renewed close ties to Berkley for ideas, counsel, guidance and just plain friendship. I found his commitment to community betterment and sense of giving unwavering and unparalleled.

However, every time we met, he always got around to chiding me for registering as an independent voter; saying I just wouldn't admit to being a Democrat! While serving on city council, a plat plan was presented for the property Berkley owned just to the south of the plant including a boulevard connecting the highway to 23rd street. We approved the plan with the suggestion that it be named Berkley Bedell Boulevard.

Sometime later, the city received a note from Berkley thanking us for the plan approval, then admonished us that cities normally name street or monuments or sites after persons who are dead. Since he had no plans to die soon, he wanted his name to not be on any street within this plat!

Now that Berkley has passed, I think it's high time that Spirit Lake commemorate his legacy by naming or doing something in honor of him. Just a suggestion, but what about asking authorities of Highway 9&71 from the east bridge to the Walmart/Indian Plant corner for re-naming this section as Berkley Bedell Parkway? I'm sure there might be other ideas out there, so my goal is to get the community to take this up. I realize his statue is now a permanent part of the pier in Arnolds Park, which is fantastic. However, his hometown is Spirit Lake so let's find an appropriate way to honor him here!

Terry B. Yarns

Spirit Lake