Virgil Oberg

March, 2013

Lincoln -- In Lincoln for the funeral of my cousin, Virgil Oberg, I should tell a couple of stories about Virgil that warrant remembering.

Because our fathers were brothers who farmed near each other, Virgil and I often worked together on the family farms and on the farms of neighbors. This was back in the Eisenhower administration, to give a time perspective. Virgil was in demand for shelling corn and putting up hay, as he was so strong and agile he could do the work of any two average men.

He was a decade older than I, and a better problem solver. Once we had to mow, rake, and bale alfalfa up on what we called the Dillon place on the Davey Road; our equipment and skills didn't seem to match up to the task. I was good at mowing with my 7-foot sickle-bar mower (which had a three point hitch), but not sure of how to use a side delivery rake to get the windrows aligned for the baler. So Virgil put my mower on his three point hitch tractor and used my tractor to do the windrows with his rake. It was a hot, breezy day for drying the hay, and we were done mowing and raking in one afternoon.

Our community softball team was an also-ran in the Waverly summer softball league until Virgil joined it. Then we won the league title consecutive years. Virgil had to adapt from baseball, his usual game, to softball. He explained to me that in baseball the pitched ball is coming down, but in fast-pitch softball it is often rising, requiring adjustments in the swing. He had more than his share of hits, but his real value was as the team catcher. He was so quick that bunters seldom had a chance, and he chased down many foul balls for outs. People turned out to the games to see him play.

In later years when Virgil farmed around the Agnew Road, he mowed and cleaned up the old Free church cemetery, which had been neglected for decades. That was Virgil's way. His neighbor Jack Johnson gave a fine eulogy at the funeral. The Lincoln Journal Star also wrote a big article to remember local legend Virgil Oberg.

The last time I saw Virgil was a few months ago, when I turned over a family heirloom to him. It was our great grandfather's trunk, which helped bring the Oberg (Ã…berg) family from Sweden to America in the 1880s. Great grandfather John Oberg built the first house in "new Ceresco" Nebraska and was the town blacksmith.