PRINCETON — It’s been said those who have a good sense of humor — those who enjoy a funny prank or a fun-filled practical joke — can rest assured they will be remembered with smiles that will continue to live on in those whose lives they have touched. Friends and family members of Carl Ellberg will no doubt have a myriad of smiles to carry them into the future.
Long-time Princeton businessman Carl Ellberg Jr., 81, died Wednesday with his family by his side. Ellberg owned and operated Ellberg Plumbing and Heating from 1962 to 2008. The Princeton native’s name was not only associated with his work as a plumber, but he was also a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church, the Princeton High School Board of Education, the Princeton Game and Fish Club, the Princeton Moose, Elks, Optimists, Jaycees and more.
While much could be written about Ellberg’s work ethic, there were many other facets of this man which friends and family quickly revealed.
Former Princeton High School Superintendent Roger Swan of Princeton said Ellberg served on the board of education when he was superintendent.
“I think he was a real fine fellow and willing to help a lot of people when they needed it He was a good board member and a good friend; I spent a lot of time with him,” Swan said. “Carl was a lot of fun too. He like to kid people and tease them, but in the long run, he was always there to help people. I could always count on Carl. He was a good friend.”
That friendship was extended to many — actually to all, since Ellberg was described by many as one who never knew a stranger.
“Carl and I have been great friends for a number of years,” said John Smith of Princeton. “Carl was one who never had an enemy. He loved to talk. It didn’t matter where we were. If a stranger came in, he would go over and talk to them, ask them their names, where they were from and what they did. All the people he met would end up being a friend. Wherever we went, he would walk in, and everybody would always say, ‘Hi, Carl!’ If anybody asked Carl how he was, he would always say, ‘Meaner than a junkyard dog.’”
Ellberg’s grandson, Erik Ellberg of Princeton, said his grandfather would come to visit him at college. When they went out to eat, he said his grandfather would often leave the table and go make friends with strangers in the restaurant, telling them he was “a plumber and a drain surgeon,” he said.
“He pushed us a little bit,” the younger Ellberg said. “He could be hard on you, but the day he stopped being hard on me, was the day I started to miss it right away. He could play some pretty good jokes. He sure lived life to the fullest, and he had a great love for all his grandchildren. If he missed any of your events, it was because he was at another grandchild’s event. And you could always hear him yelling for you in the stands ... It’s pretty simple — he was one of a kind. There’s nobody like him.”
Ellberg’s brother-in-law, Bill Anson of Princeton, had to chuckle at some of the shenanigans Ellberg used pull. He spoke of years ago when his mother would make Sunday dinners for the entire family, and she would ask Carl how he liked the meal.
“He would always say, ‘It tastes like more,’” Anson said. “He was a very devoted family man. He didn’t have a tomorrow. Everything was today. He made his decisions and went forward. He enjoyed life. He was always taking pictures, and then he’d drop by, honk the horn, and when I would go out to the driveway, he’d have a picture of the event. We did a lot of fishing together and hunted mushrooms ... We are going to miss him.
Former Evangelical Covenant Pastor John Weborg of Princeton said he found Ellberg to be “a very good conversationalist, very direct in speech, one who would communicate truthfully to you. I always found the directness of his speech and truthfulness very helpful ... He always had a great freedom to meet strangers. He was never at a loss how to make conversation with people he had never met before.” Weborg said it would be an understatement to say Ellberg will be missed.
Danny Ellberg of Princeton said his father was a man of God. He said he knows his father was loved by many people, and that his dad learned the value of church, family and work very early. Forever a joke-ster, he said his father was a generous man.
“He would say, ‘God loves a quiet giver,’” he said.
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