Bergenstal, Karl (M.D.)

Dr. Karl A.M. Bergenstal was born in Helsinki, Finland  August 22, 1874. His father was of German origin.  His mother was from Finland. Young Karl went to medical school in Finland but was unable to finish and later became a personal body guard for the Tsar of Russia. During the Russian Revolution he escaped and at the age of 33 stowed away on a ship to the United States. While learning to speak English he taught swimming and mined for gold  in Colorado. In Kansas City, Mo. he enrolled in medical school and  graduated  in May 1923. While there he married Kristine  (or Karon) Jenson with whom he had two children, Delbert and Helen. When he became a citizen, he changed  his name  from Bergdold to Bergenstal.

Soon after graduation, Dr. Bergenstal worked for the Long-Bell Lumber Company and was the personal physician of Mr. Long, the company owner. Then in 1925 he moved to Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Later he relocated in Elkins, Arkansas and practiced for a short while before moving to  Lincoln, Arkansas where he practiced another 16 years.  In 1945 he bought the Lincoln Clinic and attached house and lived there until he retired the following year.

Several years after his first wife died ( in 1943) he married Rowena Blackburn, daughter of Dr. Thomas Walsh Blackburn of Cane Hill, Arkansas.

Believing  that exercise was essential, he advocated an exercise regime for all his patients.  For himself he commissioned an exercise table with weights at each end used to strengthen both his upper and lower body. One of the “mental “ stimulants he routinely practiced was to stand on his head each morning, then go outside to deep breath in the morning air.

Dr. Bergenstal lost a leg due to diabetes. He died on April 10, 1962 at the age of 87 and is buried at the Oakhill Cemetery in Siloam Springs, Arkansas next to his first wife.

— B. L. Battenfield   21 April  2007

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