ETHEN L. “SWEDE” L. EKBERG September 1, 1929 – August 23, 2022
Ethen L. “Swede” Ekberg, 92, a longtime resident of Espanola, ended his battle with that deadly enemy, cancer, peacefully at home on August 23, 2022.
Ethen was born the 7th of 8 children on September 1, 1929 on the family farm near Broadwater, Neb.
To say Swede could accomplish anything he set his mind to would be a significant understatement. He lived 92 remarkable years filled with accomplishments, immense love and adventures. Born on the farm on the eve of the Great Depression, he embodied the values he had learned growing up: an incredible work ethic, the importance of family, loyalty to friends, a sobriety that gave him security finance and an innate ability to seize opportunities. who showed up.
He served in the US Army during the Korean War in Germany as a Staff Sergeant in the Artillery and Tank Division.
He held various jobs in his youth, including as a police officer in Gering and Scottsbluff, NE, Los Alamos, NM, and on the Pro-Force at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He then worked as a nuclear engineering technician from 1961 to 1988. We can’t tell you what he did, but we can tell you it was VERY cool and important.
It was when he first arrived in Los Alamos that he received his familiar nickname of “Swede” in recognition of his Swedish heritage.
Swede married Betty Ewing on October 5, 1952 in Gering, NE. They shared a 59-year journey together until his sudden death in 2011. Both having careers at LANL, raising 3 children, traveling across the US, Canada and Europe, a military posting in Germany , designing and building two houses together, etc. etc An incredible life together.
Swede built the home where he raised his family in La Mesilla starting with a section of the Manhattan Project women’s dormitory. It was there that he taught his children to take care of animals, to ride horses and to take care of the orchards. He and Betty were always “ready” to do whatever it took to make their children successful. This included horseback riding around town to participate in the Espanola Valley Rodeo Parade, trips to fairs, rodeos and horse shows around the country. Swede and Betty drove their RV or motorcycle to California, New Orleans and beyond to visit family and friends. One of my favorite outings was horseback camping in the mountains of northern New Mexico.
He was a life member of the Elks Association. During his time with the organization he has served in just about every office including: ER of Los Alamos Lodge, New Mexico State President and Grand Lodge District Deputy.
His second career was running his own well drilling business from 1980 to 1985 and his third was B&E Pump Services, a successful well and water pump business from 1985 to 1998. He owned and operated both with lots of help from his wife Betty and served hundreds of customers in northern New Mexico.
Swede was an avid hunter and extraordinarily accomplished marksman. In the 1950s, he was chosen to be on the US Olympic pistol team. He was a founding member of the Northern New Mexico Sporting Club. He dropped an Oryx over 485 meters in an octogenarian wind. He went on a hunting trip of a lifetime in South Africa at the age of 86. The professional hunter’s best quote was “Mr. Swede, old fool! after dropping a hartebeest in the tall grass standing above the truck cab from a long distance…. You get it.
Another of his passions was motorcycling. His first bike was a 1927 Indian Scout that he and his Nebraska scout leader reassembled from a frame and boxes of parts found in a neighbor’s basement when he was 15. He never let up from there. He was a successful trail racer in his early years, and he never met a bike on the street that he didn’t think he could beat. His sister Fauneal was known to ride her and her friend’s bicycle Roman-style through the streets of Gering. Over the years he had dozens and dozens of different bikes, but his pride and joy was his 1951 Indian Chief Roadmaster with sidecar which he spent over 4 years restoring. He and Betty loved riding her in parades with her in the sidecar or taking her to shows, which inevitably led to a trophy.
Swede is survived by her daughter Denise Ekberg (Eric); grandchildren Sarah Parks (Mike), Caleb Ekberg (Trish), Laura Bosserman and 5 great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife Betty, son Scott, daughter Vivian and siblings.
A memorial in his honor will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2022, which would have been his 93rd birthday, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Northern Rio Grande Sporting Club, 42 East Arroyo Alamo, La Puebla, 87567.
The family of Ethen L. “Suede” Ekberg has entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home of the Espanola Valley.