Erik C. Bertelsen Sr. of Red Bank, New Jersey passed away on Jan. 9, 2019.
Born in the Bronx on Jan. 8, 1916 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 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.
The Prayer of Saint Francis aptly describes Erik's approach to life and to others: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal 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 accomplishment, 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, New Jersey, Karen and Ted Beal of Fair Haven, New Jersey, Erik Jr. and Abigail Jones of East Boothbay Harbor, Maine and Susan and L. James Downes III of Millheim, Pennsylvania: 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
He was predeceased by his parents, Valdemar and Gerta; his wife, Marjorie; brothers, Valdemar, John and Christian; grandchild, Laura; and great-grandchild, Desmond.
May he rest in peace and awake to a joyful Resurrection.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 65 West Front Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Trinity Episcopal Church.