Cover photo for Karl Willard Berntsen's Obituary
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1940 Karl 2023

Karl Willard Berntsen

August 28, 1940 — January 20, 2023

Karl Willard Berntsen passed away at his Sandpoint, Idaho home on Jan. 20, 2023, at the age of 82. A true Idaho native, he was born in Lewiston to Alfred Berntsen and Gertrude Lutke and graduated from Clarkston High School as salutatorian in 1958.

Karl led a rich, well-travelled life. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Washington State University in Pullman in 1962 and was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.  Following graduation, he embarked on a 34-year career with a major oil company; a career that took him to Washington, Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Wales in the United Kingdom, where he was an executive in international refining.

On July 10, 1965, he married Ann Durney Berntsen. The couple raised two boys, Jon and Eric, and were married 57 years.

Karl was a fixture at his sons’ track & field and cross country meets and coached son Jon’s little league baseball team in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  He had the innate ability to “work the crowd”, expressing pride in his sons while, at the same time, connecting with strangers.  There was a genuine warmth and sincerity associated with Karl, and he will be missed by all the people he’s touched over the years.

In retirement, armed with advanced chemical engineering knowledge and experience, he took on what he would consider his dream job - making hard cider and apple brandy at the Warwick Valley Winery in New York. Of course, Karl was a hit at the local farmers markets and had little difficulty selling his craft.

Karl and Ann returned to Idaho in 2018 after Karl was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a disease that eventually got the best of him. Although his mobility was severely restricted, he could still beat anyone at a game of “Crazy Eights”. 

Karl is survived by his wife, Ann, sons Jon and Eric and their wives Heather and Francine, respectively, and Jon and Heather’s son, Nikolai. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to Bonner General Health Community Hospice at 520 North Third Avenue, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864.


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