Richard "Sonny" Osterberg
Richard "Sonny" Osterberg
Sonny (Richard G.) Osterberg, the eighth of nine children of Richard and Tena (Hotvedt) Osterberg was born in Kensington, MN on December 5, 1923. The family moved to Alexandria in 1927 because, according to Sonny's father, "Eff-ry day in Alexandria is yust like the fort of Yuly in Kensington!"
At age 16 he began running the ice cream counter at Osterberg's Caf in downtown Alexandria. He attended and graduated from Central School in Alexandria in 1941. He then attended the University of MN with dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer. Unable to enlist during WWII due to a medical deferment he returned home and became a partner in the family business. One of the benefits of returning home was working with Helen Wagner, that cute waitress at Osterberg's. Helen spent some time in California and the two discovered that absence truly did make their hearts grow fonder. They married on May 27, 1947 at the Church of St Mary in Alexandria. They were married for 63 years.
Family, hospitality and service were important aspects of Sonny and Helen's faith and life together. Patrick, Paul, Leann, Peter, Richard and Mary were born during the Baby Boom. Family traditions included annual trips to the MN State Fair, Deer Park and Itasca (including a meal at the Schwartzwald Inn in Park Rapids), hosting holiday meals for the extended family at Fireside Steakhouse and inter-generational Tripoly card games. Deer hunting was a life long activity he enjoyed first with his brothers then with his sons and grandsons.
The food business came naturally to Sonny. He began as a third partner with his brothers in Osterberg's in Alexandria. He sold his share and owned and operated Osterberg's Caf in Fergus Falls for 4 years. Returning to Alexandria, he bought Hillside Club, sold insurance for a short time and then purchased Fireside Steakhouse, which he and Helen operated for 28 years. It was here that Sonny's culinary skills really shone. Standing at the charcoal grill, customers loved to watch him prepare his famous steaks, chicken and "Sonny's Walleye". He truly enjoyed greeting his customers while they watched him work.
Retirement came at age 75 after 60 years in the restaurant business. Helen encouraged him to "stay busy" so he sold real estate and made a run for county commissioner. His grandkids also kept him busy. He and Helen traveled to wherever the grandkids were to attend their events.
Sonny said in an interview with the Sr. Perspective newspaper, "Music has really been the joy of my life. My voice has meant everything to me." A choir director discovered his talent when he was 8 and put him in front of the congregation to sing a solo. Many have commented on his solos at weddings and funerals. He was a life-long member of the St Mary's Choir. Parishioners looked forward to his solos at Midnight Mass. He was thrilled to sing the Star-Spangled Banner with his son and grandsons at the Gopher football games.
In 1950 Sonny joined the Knights of Columbus and became a Fourth Degree Knight in 2004. He was a long-time member of Rotary.
Sonny passed away peacefully on the Feast of St Francis, October 4, 2018 at Bethany on the Lake in Alexandria. He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen; infant son, Richard; parents; siblings and spouses, Viola (Martin) Rotto, Bennie (Margaret), Lenore (Helen), Tony (Pauline) Osterberg and Donna (William) Huskey; two brothers who died as children: Mervin & Clifton and brother-in-law, Allen Wittchow.
Survivors are his children and their spouses, Patrick (Stephanie), Paul (Bobbie), Leann (Virgil) Lerud, Peter, Mary (LeRoy) Bowder; grandchildren, Justin (Jessica) Osterberg, Catie Osterberg, Richard (Lesley) Osterberg, Kendra (Seth) Hahn, Steve Osterberg, Kirstin (Clint) Wendel, Seth (Shanele Larson) Bowder, Nate Osterberg, Molly (Clay) Larson; 12 Great Grandchildren and another on the way; sister, JoAnn Wittchow; and many nieces and nephews.
Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 10:30 a.m. at St Mary's Catholic Church. Burial was at St Mary's Cemetery. Visitation was held on Wednesday, October 10 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Anderson's Funeral Home with a Parish Prayer Service at 4:00 p.m. Visitation continued on Thursday, October 11 at the Church from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. Arrangements were with Anderson Funeral Home.