On May 1, 2009, Carl Frederick Ekstrom passed away at his home just yards from the family home where he was born 95 years earlier. He was the son of Swedish immigrants who arrived in Gresham in the 1900s. His family farmed the land bringing an ethic of hard work, strong faith and commitment to community.
In 1941, Carl enlisted in the US Air Corps and served in the 2nd Air Force in Spokane, WA and Colorado Springs, CO. His organizational skills made him an indispensable Technical Sergeant. In 1945, Carl was discharged from military service and returned to the family farm.
Carl attended Powell Valley Covenant Church where he met his wife Hilma Christina Beatrice Wilner. When Carl proposed to Hilma, he asked, “What do you think of the institution of marriage?” and she replied, “Every family should have one!” Like good farmers, their life together began on July 10, 1948 right between strawberry and raspberry season.
Carl and Hilma built a home next door to Carl’s parents and continued working on the family farm. In the early years they used horses for farming. Later, Carl purchased an Allis Chalmers tractor, which he used to do the main farm work until the early 80’s. Carl was 90 years old when he gave up plowing as it was too difficult to climb on the tractor.
Don (1950) and Jim (1953) enjoyed the family farm growing up and later worked side by side with Carl in the family business.
Carl was ambitious. In addition to working on the family farm, he worked for 30 years for the postal service as a rail way mail clerk to provide for his family. He sorted mail on the train to and from Portland, OR to Baker, OR. The Post Office schedule allowed him time to develop his “hobby” of farming. Carl diligently worked improving the nursery business steadily over the years
Carl invested in the community by serving in his local church, the Farm Bureau, the Powell Valley School Board and the Salvation Army. He gave generously to the Salvation Army annual plant sale and enjoyed working the sale every spring. He touched many people through the years and the sparkle in his eye and spring in his step were a constant source of inspiration.
Don along with son Scott continues to improve Ekstrom Nursery Quality, Variety and Value while honoring Carl and Hilma Ekstrom’s legacy.