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Berkley Bedell

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Congressman Berkley Bedell

In 1988, Berk saw a TV show about Karen's activities with Lyme disease, called Karen, and invited her to Washington to talk with him about the disease. He then walked Karen through Congress, having her join his wife and him for lunch at the Congressional lunchroom. During the lunch he introduced Karen to her new Senator, Joe Lieberman. Sen. Lieberman promised to do something, starting with a Lyme Awareness Week Resolution. Berk then walked Karen to Rep. Hochbrueckner’s office, and got him to run the House version of Sen. Lieberman’s bill(s). Berk was not yet done. Berk, then took Karen to Senator Harkin’s office, who chaired the powerful senate HELP committee. He made sure to introduce Karen to the HHS staff member. Then, Berk joined the LDF’s Board of Directors.

While being remembered for his achievements, most people think of Berk for his leadership, his kindness, his compassion, and his activeness to make a difference – not just in big causes, but in individual people’s lives. He was alive with empathy and always ready to take on injustice.

In 1937, while still in high school, Berk began tying fishing flies and selling them in a local tackle shop. With the encouragement of his family, his natural entrepreneurial instincts encouraged him to develop fishing leaders and the beginning of what became Berkley & Co. He attended Iowa State University. He continued his fishing tackle business until World War II called. Joining the Army Air Corps, he became a flight instructor.

After the war, Berkley’s interest in innovation led to new and better products he introduced into the fishing tackle market, enabling him to employ hundreds of local people and home workers. The company expanded into multiple locations – finally consolidating into a new factory building. In 1964 he has honored by President Lyndon Johnson as the country’s first Small Businessman of the Year. Berks was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, and the Iowa Business Hall of Fame.

Berkley was active in community affairs. He was a member of the Spirit Lake United Methodist Church, a founding member of the Spirit Lake Kiwanis Club and a Mason. He served on the Spirit Lake School Board. Many people will recall his mentorship as a Boy Scout leader, the record number of Eagle Scouts and the annual canoe trips to the Boundary Waters. Berk served as the president of the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Association, and the Iowa Manufacturing Association. He was active in the Young Presidents Organization. He served on the Board of Trustees of Morningside College, American University, and Claremont School of Theology.

In 1974, he was elected to represent Iowa’s 6th District in the US Congress. He served for twelve years until his retirement in 1987 because he contracted Lyme disease.

In Congress he served on the Agriculture Committee and chaired the Small Business Committee. He also represented the United States on the UN Convention on Law of the Seas.

When his health returned, he lobbied Congress to establish an Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in the National Institutes of Health. He served on the advisory board.

Becoming frustrated that OAM did not aggressively consider alternate medical practices, he founded the Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine in 1998 which continues today.

Berkley Warren Bedell, age 98, passed away in 2019 after suffering a stroke.
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