Elio “Bert” Bertolini
November 7, 1920 – January 23, 2021
On Saturday, January 23, 2021, Elio left us.
Elio “Bert” Bertolini was born November 7, 1920 in Korbel to Luigi and Bruna (Bonini) Bertolini. He was delivered by his great aunt, Assunta Papini, who served as midwife to most of the babies born in Korbel.
His father leased company land beside the Mad River where he grew vegetables and raised chickens for his truck farm business. Elio’s schooling was at Korbel Elementary and Arcata High School. His parents purchased land at Alliance (near Arcata) in 1936, where they continued farming. Elio worked for a short time at Hammond Lumber Company in Samoa before joining the U.S. Navy in January 1942.
After completing boot camp, he was assigned to Alameda Naval Air Station for training as Aviation Machinist Mate. He joined Air Group Eleven before being sent to Guadalcanal. Returning to California, he received training at Burbank and was assigned to Group VX4 that was conducting radar detection tests of submarines on the East Coast. He remained there until his discharge in November 1947.
After returning home he worked at the California Barrel Factory. An avid baseball fan, he joined the Humboldt County Redwood League playing for Arcata and Blue Lake teams. In 1950 he married Janice Clark in Blue Lake. They moved to Eureka where they raised their three children. He served an apprenticeship as heavy equipment mechanic at Dayton Murray Truck Sales in Eureka. At this time the lumber industry was flourishing with the demand for new homes. Truck Engineering purchased the firm and Elio continued working there until the company’s closure. He then worked for Tiny Parks Equipment Repair before joining Trinity Tractor. As the lumber industry began to slow, he found employment in 1963 with the California Division of Highways (now Caltrans) in the equipment department. He retired in 1985. Elio joined the Eureka Elks Lodge in 1950, where he became active in lodge affairs. He served as Exalted Ruler in 1977/78 and was later president of the Northwest District Past Exalted Rulers Association.
When he became interested in fly fishing, he and Janice began annual trips to Henry’s Lake Idaho. There he fished his favorite stream, the Madison River. He and Janice continued these fishing vacations for thirty years, before the long trips slowed them down. They did find time for camping when their children were growing up. Later they enjoyed Alaska cruises and six trips to Italy, where his parents were born. Following his retirement, he joined the Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association, which had acquired one of the first early day tractors Hammond Lumber Company had used in logging. He wasn’t ready to retire his mechanical skills and spent several years restoring the HD60 Caterpillar. The NCLIA eventually became the Timber Heritage Association, where he continued as a volunteer while physically able.
Elio was predeceased by his parents, his sister, Mary Bertolini and daughter, Lori Bertolini
He is survived by his wife, Janice, son Louis Bertolini (Kathy), daughter, Lisa Ringelman (Jeff) and grancdchildren, Kelly DelRosario (Jaye), Erica Clarke (Laura), Jordan Ringelman, Nicholas, Joseph, and Julia Bertolini and three great grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to Timber Heritage Association, P.O. Box 6399, Eureka, CA 95502 or a charity of your choice.
A private family burial at gravesite will be held.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Elio Bertolini’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.