We’ve lost a great friend, proud family man, and true American patriot.
Gunnar lived a full life of 97 years. He was born in Eidsvag, Norway to Inga and Hilmar Bersos. They immigrated to Guemes Island, Washington in 1923 then later settled in West Seattle.
Gunnar and his three siblings grew up in the hard-working, close-knit immigrant community known as “Pigeon Hill.” Never forgetting their roots, the Bersos family maintained many Norwegian customs and traditions.
Upon graduating from West Seattle High School, Gunnar wanted to serve his country so in 1942 he enlisted in the Navy, just as the Second World War was raging across the globe.
As an EM2/C member of the USS Competent (AM316) he crossed the equator four times, the 180th meridian 14 times, survived the famous Okinawa typhoon, swept 156 enemy mines, and took part in many of the major battles of World War II. From Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Islands and Asia, he served on submarine lookout, minesweeping patrol, and once rescued a downed fighter pilot. Gunnar earned six ribbons as well as a Commendation, a Citation, five Battle Stars, and a Silver Star. Later in life he spoke about how proud he was to have been a sailor in the Navy, to have fought in the perilous Pacific Theater, and to have served our country.
On July 23, 1956 Gunnar married Shirley Glockner. They were blessed with a bountiful and happy life together in Burien, Washington. A gifted electrician, Gunnar earned his 70-year member certificate for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Upon retirement Gunnar and Shirley moved to Port Townsend. It was in Cape George that he built his dream home for Shirley and the family. He loved the serenity and majestic beauty of living on the Olympic Peninsula. Gunnar was always an avid clammer but it was here that he found his second calling and became renowned as the “Geoduck King.”
Gunnar belonged to the Elks Club as well as the American Legion, where many valued friendships were forged. You could often find Gunnar at the bar making someone laugh, listening to a story, or just enjoying the camaraderie with a smile and a drink. His many friends meant a great deal to him and were the true foundation beneath his happy nature.
Along with being a dedicated hunter and fisherman, Gunnar savored warm beaches. He and Shirley spent many winters in Hawaii and Florida. Gunnar loved to travel, but particularly relished his visit to Norway where he got to reconnect with his roots and spend valued time with family members from his birthplace.
Gunnar was invited to join the maiden “Honor Flight” for WW2 Veterans to visit Washington D.C. He had the biggest, proudest smile as he joined his shipmates on the red carpet commemorative walk and salute.
Gunnar is survived by his children; Donna Frandsen, George Glockner and Duane Glockner; six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren. He also leaves behind his brother Ivar Bersos and many nieces and nephews who adored him.
Gunnar is predeceased by his wife Shirley, as well as his two sisters, Margot (McMasters) and Agnes (Byers).
He will be missed by all, loved forever and never forgotten. One of the greats!
His family would like to thank the dedicated caregivers at Jefferson Hospital for their kindness and expertise.
In lieu of flowers please consider:
Services will be held at Tahoma National Memorial, at a later date.