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Berger Fagenstrom

Birth place or City of origin: Great Falls
State of origin: MT
Last known City:
Last known State:
Start/Birth date: 1914
Death/End date: 2003

Berger Fagenstrom, 88, died Oct. 21, 2003, at St. Elizabeth Health Care Center.
Berger Saint Fagenstrom was born in Great Falls, Montana, on March 17, 1914, to Hjalmar and Hilma Hammer Fagenstrom. He was raised in Montana and as a child he watched Charlie Russell and O C Seltzer paint.

After graduation from high school, he won a statewide art scholarship to Montana State University at Bozeman. He went on to enroll at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, and was there off and on for four years when finances were available.

During his stay at the Art Center he worked at Disney for about a year. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to the newly established Seabees, or Naval Construction Battalion, and was sent to the Pacific area. He was assigned as the battalion artist and some of his works are displayed in the Seabee Museum at Oxnard, California.

Because of his wife Ruth's illness, he was forced to go into construction to pay for extensive medical bills. He joined various art groups in Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes and South Bay. Through these groups he sold many paintings at group shows and had eight one-man shows in 1978. 1979 was a catastrophic year. His wife, Ruth, had stroke after stroke. After her death, he left California for Oregon at his twin brother Cregor's suggestion because of its great Western atmosphere and possible artistic future. In 1980, he opened "McCord's," the first art gallery in Baker City. He painted many pictures, but out of necessity, had to make his own frames, which became noted for their western charm. In October of 1982 he married Dorothy "Misty" Gerard in Baker City. They enjoyed having the business and worked well together. In 1989 they sold the business. He had shown his work in all the Western shows at Ellensburg, Kalispell, Eugene, Boise and Great Falls. He not only painted, but he also taught. One highlight in Baker City is a mural he painted in a building owned by John Bootsma. The mural was 40 feet long and 10 feet high.

 

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