Thomas Robert Biornstad
November 24, 1919 – May 12, 2019
Beloved Dad, Grandfather, Brother and Friend
Thomas Robert “Bob” Biornstad 11-24-1919 to 5-12-2019
Bob was born in Forest Grove, Oregon. As an infant in his mother’s arms, he traveled by interurban trolley to Gresham where his father had recently purchased a greenhouse/nursery operation on Hogan Road. As the oldest of eight children, Bob accepted the responsibility for protecting his siblings and helping his parents. He had many tales relating to wild adventures with his brothers, and of helping his father stoke the boiler with cordwood to heat the greenhouses. His early years were spent at the one room Bethel schoolhouse which prompted more stories of kerosene lamps, wood stoves and schoolyard bullies.
Bob was a proud member of the U.S. Army during WWII. His plans for becoming a ski trooper were thwarted by a serious illness at the end of basic training. After his recovery he spent the remainder of his service as enlisted staff at the Officers Training School at Camp Robert’s near Paso Robles, CA. On one of Bob’s trips to the USO dances in Fresno, he stopped for a meal at a Chinese restaurant. He never expected that one of the young ladies he played the jukebox for would become the love of his life. He and Betty Jean Carter were married July 7th, 1945. After his discharge from the service, the newlyweds bounced back and forth between Gresham and Fresno. They eventually settled in Fresno during the school years for their three sons Tom, Gary and Scott.
Bob was always mechanically adept and loved to problem solve. He turned those skills into becoming a mechanic at a Ford dealership. He could fix anything, but he preferred to work on Fords! He later became depot manager/mechanic for a fleet of bread & bakery trucks; a job he loved for its diversity and independence. He was eventually promoted to regional headquarters in San Francisco, and retired in 1981.
Bob and Betty spent their early years of retirement traveling in their beloved motor home through most of the western states, Canada and Mexico. They wintered in Yuma, AZ with family and friends, and spent the summers in Portland with children and grandchildren. They moved into a retirement community in 2000. Betty passed away in 2003, and Bob continued to live on his own until the last day of 2018 at the age of 99. He then transitioned to a wonderful and caring adult foster care home.
Bob is survived by his son Gary Biornstad (wife Annette), granddaughters Jenifer Ingersoll, Julie Green and Emily Hagedorn, six great grandchildren, daughter-in-law Sandi Biornstad, sisters Katherine Pemberton and Rena Wilson and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son Scott in 2014 and son Tom in 2017.
By Bob’s request there will not be a funeral or memorial service. A private graveside service will be held at a future date to inter Bob, Betty and son Scott’s ashes in the Pioneer Cemetery in Damascus, OR between the graves of Bob’s parents.
Bob requested that any remembrances be contributed in his memory to a church or charity of your choice.