Erik C. Bertelsen Sr. passed away Jan. 9. Born Jan. 8, 1916 in the Bronx to Danish immigrants, Erik was the third of four boys. A member of the “Greatest Generation,” he lived through the Great Depression and served as a captain in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. Following the war, he pursued a successful banking career serving as director and senior vice president of First Merchants National Bank and president of the Monmouth County Banker’s Association. Later in his career and upon retirement, Erik consulted with SCORE and taught courses at Monmouth University and the American Institute of Banking.
As a devout Christian, he served the Lord as an under deacon, lay reader, vestry member and Sunday school teacher. In addition, Erik served on numerous boards and volunteer organizations. These included the board of directors at Shore Area YMCA in Asbury Park, the Camp Speers Committee (president), the Jersey Shore Medical Center Board (treasurer) and the Atrium Residents Association (treasurer). He was particularly proud of the fact that he earned the rank of Eagle Scout while in the Boy Scouts. An avid sailor, Erik spent many summers with his family in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
No doubt, the highlight of Erik’s life was his marriage to Marjorie, whom he met while attending the Catholic Apostolic Church on 57th Street in New York City. After being transferred to California during the war in 1943, Erik proposed to Marjorie through the mail. Taking a leap of faith, she boarded a train in New York City to join him in San Bernardino. They spent 68 joyous years together, mentoring several generations on what mattered most in life.
Those with whom he came into contact came to appreciate his gentle and selfless nature. While he had much to be proud of, he was inevitably more interested to learn how others were doing and how he might help them. While a man of significant accomplishments, Erik was unusually modest, often deflecting attention to others. He was a favorite amongst the staff at the Atrium where he showed genuine interest in and compassion for those who cared for him. Whether family, friend or colleague, it seemed he always saw the best in others. While a role model and caregiver to many, ultimately, he cared most about his family and his faith. He truly lived out the credo “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Erik is survived by his four children: Kristan and Richard Louis of Mahwah, Karen and Ted Beal of Fair Haven, Erik Jr. and Abigail Jones of East Boothbay Harbor, Maine and Susan and L. James Downes III of Millheim, Pennsylvania; and 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He is predeceased by his parents, Valdemar and Gerta; his wife Marjorie; brothers, Valdemar, John and Christian; grandchild Laura and great-grandchild Desmond.
A funeral service was held Jan. 12 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Red Bank. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Trinity Episcopal Church.