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Sarah Jane “Sally” Bergstrom, 95, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday morning, January 7, 2024, at Jefferson Manor in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She lived a purposeful life full of faith, kindness, and devotion to others, and a joyful life, full of love, good health, and an appreciation of every day.
Born in Newton, MA, on December 24, 1928, to the late Maurice and Mildred (Levi) Reidy, Sally grew up in a happy home with her parents, five siblings, an aunt and an uncle. She was especially close to her brother, Roger, and sister, Judy. She attended Sacred Heart School through high school. A talented and dedicated pianist, Sally was accepted into the New England Conservatory of Music. Instead, she chose to enter a convent to become a nun. While there she realized her true calling: To raise a big family while being a productive Catholic by serving others. Sally later attended secretarial school and went to work for The Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, MA, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
In her teens, Sally developed a passion for skiing, often traveling to the White Mountains with her brother, Roger. It was on the slopes of Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire that she met Carl Iver “Lindy” Bergstrom. Their shared love of skiing led to lifelong friendships, eventually an A-frame in North Conway and decades of enjoyment in the mountains.
Sally and Lindy married on August 1, 1953, and moved into a home Lindy built in Wilmington MA where they started a family. By 1960, they settled in Topsfield MA. Their strong marriage made 10 Grove Street a welcome hub for family and friends for over 40 years. Sally was a stay-at-home mom who enthusiastically raised 6 children, supporting our activities and dreams, reading to us nightly, keeping us engaged and life fun. As her children got a little older, she began fostering babies, first newborns and, later, neglected toddlers through Catholic Charities. Around-the-clock care of newborns somehow didn’t deter from the energy she had for the rest of us. Later Sally became a home health aide bringing her thoughtful care to homebound members of the community. Eventually, Lindy needed full-time care, which she lovingly provided until his death in July 2009.
Sally was active at the St Rose of Lima Parish and St Vincent de Paul, quietly helping to feed and clothe those in need, assisting refugees, and making weekly visits to the then-state mental hospital to play cards and share comfort and laughs with patients. She taught catechism classes, attended mass daily whenever she could, and enjoyed assisting her friend, Dona, with the flowers at church. A voracious reader, she also volunteered at the Topsfield Library for years.
Still, Sally had time for fun. She was a lifelong walker, from 5 AM walks in her 20s, to walking miles around Topsfield several times per week, to participating annually in a 20-mile Walk for Hunger (until she was 80 when she decided she was too slow!), to daily walks around the “circle” at Washington Meadows in her nineties even, and especially, during winter, and finally in a wheelchair logging an amazing number of steps up and down the halls at her skilled nursing facility. She created a legacy of hiking in the White Mountains which she shared with her children and others, who have passed it on to their children. Sally and Lindy hosted several fun family reunions in their backyard for 50+ relatives that invariably ended with Sally and her siblings, nieces, and nephews singing acapella rounds with complex harmonies! In addition to skiing, she and Lindy enjoyed dancing, bicycling, and canoeing. She and her sister, Judy Brigham, remained best friends throughout their lives. Watching birds at her bird feeder made her happy and, maybe more than anything, Sally loved a good snowstorm.
Sally lived most of the last twenty-five years of her life at Washington Meadows in Topsfield where family and friends stayed in constant touch. Late in life, she was challenged by dementia but remained kind and generous until the end. It has been a comfort to know that her last couple of weeks were spent mostly sleeping with a smile on her face, rosary beads in hand, and in peace. She passed away on a Sunday morning during the year’s first snowstorm, a final gift to her children.
Sally is survived by six children, Deborah LaMarche and her husband Tim of Utah, Julia Bergstrom of California, Sarah Getzelman and her husband Brian of Utah, Amelia Baughman and her husband Robert of Pennsylvania, Martha Hanright of Templeton Mass, and Luis Bergstrom and his wife Kristen of Maryland, grandchildren, Spencer LaMarche, Emily (and Steven) Gill, Ashley Wylie, Kyle (and Shaina) Baughman, Bryce (and Mackenzie) Baughman, Bailey Bergstrom, Carlos Getzelman, Schuyler and Camden Bergstrom, great-grandchild, Harper Anne, and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brothers, Robert, Maurice “Sandy,” Parker, and Roger Reidy, her sisters, Mary Sparks and Judith Brigham, her husband, Carl Iver Bergstrom, and son, Carl Albert Bergstrom.
The family gratefully thank our sisters, Martha and Amy, for the special care they provided to Mom in her last years, as well as the wonderful caregivers who kept her in her own home for as long as possible.
There will be a Visitation at 12:00 noon on Saturday, February 3, at St Rose of Lima Parish Hall (adjacent to the church), immediately followed by a Funeral Mass at 1:00 pm at St Rose of Lima, Topsfield, Mass. Burial to follow at Pine Grove Cemetery, Topsfield, Mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sally’s name to St Vincent de Paul, The Christ Initiative, 22 Boston St, Middleton, MA 01949.
Services are entrusted to the Carrier Funeral Home, 2834 Maplevale Rd., Brookville, PA 15825, and the F. S. Roberts & Son Funeral Home, Rowley, MA.