Founder Of One Of The Area's Largest Employers & A Former U.S. Representative, Berkley Bedell, Passes Away

Sat 12-7-2019

(Spirit Lake)-- The founder of one of the region's largest employers and a former Congressman has passed away.

KUOO news has learned Berkley Bedell passed away Saturday of a stroke. 

Bedell was a 1939 graduate of Spirit Lake High School. As a boy, he started tying fishing flies in his bedroom and started his own business, which would eventually become known worldwide as Berkley and Company and later Pure Fishing, which were based out of Spirit Lake. 

He married his wife Elinor in 1943 and had three children, Kenneth, Tom and Joanne.

Berkley, or Berk as his friends refer to him, also represented what was then Iowa's 6th district in Congress from 1975 to 1987.

Berk also served in the U.S. Army as first lieutenant and flight trainer in the early to mid 1940's. Upon returning home he continued to grow his fishing tackle business, which would go on to employ hundreds of people in the area. 

Bedell also served on the Spirit Lake School Board from 1957 to 1962.

Berkley and Elinor donated some land they owned on East Lake Okoboji to the state of Iowa for the establishment of what would become Elinor Bedell State Park in 1998. Elinor passed away several years ago.

Berkley Bedell was 98.