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Bertram L. ELLENBOGEN

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Bertram L. ELLENBOGEN Obituary
1917 ~ 2014 Bertram was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 5, 1917. He passed away at 96 in Minneapolis, where he had lived since 1972. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, and parents, Abraham and Carrie. He is survived by his daughter, Barbara. Bert first attended New York University, where he majored in Journalism. After serving in World War II, he decided to refocus on Sociology and, through the GI Bill, pursued a Masters and Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. As part of his graduate education, Bertram went to Venezuela with a group and worked on a project for the Rockefeller Foundation, which helped him complete his Ph.D. His first professorship was at Cornell University, where he was tenured. Then in 1962, he accepted a sabbatical with the University of California at Berkeley, to live in Brazil for about two years. So, in 1962, he and his family moved to Brazil for a new adventure. Much like the movie character Indiana Jones, Bertram lived life to the fullest, cared about people and tried to help educate students in the best way that he could. He was so popular with students, there were waiting lists for some of his classes. Sometimes one has to risk to gain, he would always say. He was never afraid to try new things and always saw the best in people. Here are some examples of the legacies he left: While he and his wife were flying across Venezuela in the 1950s, the door to the plane opened. Ruth remained in her seat, unworried, reading a magazine, knowing that her husband would keep them safe. Working with others on the plane, Bertram managed to close the door. During a visit to northern Brazil, he and his daughter went to watch a religious ceremony involving Santeria. As they approached the entrance, he reached out his hand to his daughter, who took it, and they went up the stairs together. Although Barbara was only 8, she was not afraid, as she was with her father and knew she would be safe. One night around Thanksgiving in the early 1980s, 27 inches of snow fell in Minneapolis. Bertram went outside during the storm to shovel around the house and his daughter's car so she could get to work the next day. Barbara remembers being inside, listening to the shoveling and feeling safe and protected. Besides being one of the best at what he did in rural sociology, and reaching out to others around the world, he also was able to convey a feeling of confidence, protection and safety to his family. This never wavered during all the years, even as he approached his 90s. The below quote says it best from someone that Bert touched more than 40 years ago: "I was alone, Doctor Ellenbogen, and you let me make friends with your family. I was lost in a foreign land and you showed me the way of knowledge. The doors of the Big Country were shut in my face and you flew from the Rockies to the Federal Capital to try to open them for me. Darkness fell on me in my own country and you kept lighting lights around me to cheer me up. Four decades past and your lights are still bringing happiness around me. Thank you Professor Ellenbogen. God bless your soul." I am blessed to be the daughter of a real-life Indiana Jones. Bertram Ellenbogen was more than a father, he was a friend, and most of all, my daddy. Be at peace and thank you.


Published in Pioneer Press on Jan. 12, 2014
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