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Town mourns loss of community champion Cal Lindburg

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RONAN – A beloved community member who volunteered so often he was honored with the title of “Grand Marshal” in several local parades, passed away recently. Community members describe him as someone who helped develop the town of Ronan. 

Calvin Lindburg, 91, better known as “Cal,” spent decades assisting with whatever was going on in Ronan, including the annual holiday parades. His wife, Alice Lindburg, said he loved a good parade to support the town and have a little fun. 

She recalled the time Cal used food coloring to turn their donkey green as a feature attraction for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The donkey was so popular in the parade that it was brought back for a winter walk down Main Street wearing Christmas lights. Cal was also known to ensure there was a local church float and he occasionally added his antique Model A to the parade lineup. 

Cal’s parents brought him to Ronan from South Dakota when he was about 17 years old. His mom worked as a teacher at Round Butte School (since demolished), and his father farmed and drove a school bus. His dad also worked at the town cheese factory back when it was in operation. 

Interviewed in 2017 for a Veteran Spotlight story, he recalled one day in 1951 when he traveled to the school where his mom was teaching and interrupted her class to say he had been drafted into the Army. He wanted to tell her goodbye before he was shipped out for basic training in Seattle. While on an Army furlough, he hitched a ride back home to marry his sweetheart, Alice Elfers. While he was in the service, she attended college to become a teacher.

Cal ended up being a medic during the Korean conflict and figured he would be sent to war. He prayed for an alternative. It turned out he was able to stay in Tokyo and work as a medic. While in Japan, he took the opportunity to climb Mt. Fuji. 

In 1952, Cal was discharged from the military and went to school to become a pharmacist. He eventually moved back to Ronan and opened Lindburg Pharmacy on Main Street. The pharmacy was open from 1961 to 2000, during which time the couple also raised three children.

“He made his life in Ronan,” Alice said. “I didn’t see him much. He was working at the pharmacy, raising hay and volunteering. He was always volunteering.”

Alice said Cal watched as the business scene changed in the town in the 40-years he was running his own business. She said they watched with dismay as mom-and-pop operations closed up while big box stores took over, and then the highway route changed. 

“Highway 93 used to go through town and people would stop,” she said. “When the highway moved, it blew the wind out of our sails.” 

Cal remained hopeful that business in the area would pick back up someday. He told his wife that tourism might get the town going again. 

“In his biggest dreams, he wanted to build a tower where people could look out at the mountains,” she said. “He also thought there should be more mountain trails.”

Cal was passionate about helping the Garden of the Rockies Museum and was influential in the addition of several historic buildings to the collection, including the old Catholic Church, the main museum building, and the Round Butte gym, and a stagecoach. He also helped launch projects to repair sidewalks, helped with science related programs at the school, and volunteered at the Lake County Fair to help the 4-H kids. 

“He also helped with the golf course,” Alice said. “He didn’t really like golf, but he wanted it for the community. He was always looking ahead at what to do next for the community.”

Cal held potato feeds to raise funds to repair the old historic Dupuis Barn. Causing his wife fear for his safety, he even got on the roof of that barn and nailed down a few shingles. 

Cal also found time to be involved in church by helping to build three Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches during his lifetime. This includes the Terrace Lake Church in Ronan (built in the 80s), which is where the couple attended church and where Cal’s memorial service was held on Saturday, April 7.

Alice said the cross in front of the Terrace church was added several years after the church was built. “It’s an interesting story about that cross.” One of Cal’s employees took some money from his pharmacy. The employee came back years later and wanted to repay the money. 

“Calvin used the money to build that cross on the church grounds as a sign of forgiveness and to remind us to love one another,” she said.  

A stroke forced Cal to slow down in the last eight years of his life and become more sedentary. Even so, he was still able to add yet another accomplishment to his already long list of achievements. The change in lifestyle allowed Cal the opportunity focus all his love and attention on his wife.

“While I had him at home, he became the most loving man. He was the best husband. He gave me some beautiful memories,” Alice said. “He was a great man.” 

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