December 7, 1935 – February 17, 2021
Verner Stenderup died peacefully at home of cancer on February 17, 2021. Verner and his twin brother Gunner were born on December 7th, 1935 to Viggo and Frida Stenderup, immigrants from Denmark. The babies born in Ms. Friese’s maternity hospital were the first Kern County twins to be born by caesarean section. The bill for the birth and 10-day hospital stay was $ 134.38. Verner grew up on the family farm in the Weedpatch-Arvin area, attended local Vineland and Sunset schools, and graduated from Arvin High in 1953. Verner also visited Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Verner was baptized in St John’s Lutheran Church in Bakersfield, but as a child and adult he attended the Arvin Union congregational church, where he was an active member, held many offices, and did whatever needed to be done, including visiting the Tuesday ladies get all local information. Verner was good at visiting any neighbor or friend who was sick or alone. These visits were often made over a cup of coffee and hopefully a biscuit. Verner was also a longtime board member of the Vineland School District and was a past member of various farm co-op boards, the Water District Board, the Arvin Cemetery Board, the Arvin Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Arvin Historical Society. In 2001 he was named Citizen of the Year by the Arvin Chamber of Commerce.
Verner’s family was active in the local Danish community and Verner was a member of both the Danish Brotherhood and the Danish Sisterhood in Bakersfield. During one of the many lodge parties in February 1955, Verner met a pretty girl from Denmark, Birthe, who was visiting with her extended family all year round. When they met again, Verner invited Birthe to the farm to see the view from the cross of the Bear Mountain. Verner, a romantic, had a bouquet of roses delivered to the merchant ship on which Birthe sailed back to Denmark, although he only knew the name of the ship and the approximate departure date. The two only met again in 1957 when Verner went to Denmark under the guise of his grandfather. Verner and Birthe were married in 1958 in Zions Kirke, Esbjerg, Denmark. Immediately after the wedding, Verner was drafted into the Army, and the young couple was in Kentucky, where Verner was serving as a company employee at Fort Knox. Their son Kent was born in Kentucky. They returned to the California farm in 1960, where son Finn and daughter Lisa were born. Verner farmed for many years with his father, uncle Soren and his brother, before eventually farming with son Kent and nephew Andy. During his 65 years in agriculture, Verner was an early adopter of computer technology. He also witnessed an amazing agricultural development from hand-harvesting to machine-picked cotton and machine-harvested grapes, and from mules pulling plows to GPS-guided tractors.
Verner loved nothing better than throwing parties for family, neighbors and friends, be it at their farm home, at their beach house in Pismo Beach or at their favorite vacation spot, Punta Pescadero, Baja del Sur. Verner was a planner and searched recipes and made menus for him and Birthe to prepare for their guests. It was a special honor to be invited to one of their festive Danish parties serving pickled herring and drinking Akvavit. Their parties taught everyone how to be the consummate host. Over the years, Verner and Birthe picnicked and traveled with close friends from church to the most remote places to visit old mining towns and polar bears. During his free time, Verner enjoyed reading, napping, and gardening.
Verner was proud of his family and probably talked a little too much about the exploits of his grandson John and the accomplishments of his granddaughter Julia. He gives his daughter-in-law Patty, whom he has always enjoyed seeing, a lot of appreciation for his accomplished grandchildren. The family saw in Verner a man who was perfectly honest in all aspects of his life. From Verner, Kent and Lisa developed a strong work ethic and learned to be good hosts. For the past year Kent and Verner drove to the farm every day and Kent answered many questions about modern agriculture to Verners. Lisa was fortunate enough to have some vacations with her parents and when her friends ask her why she is so organized for parties, she always gives her parents credit. While Verner had high expectations for his children, he was also a generous father who wanted only the best for his family. Whenever he was asked what he wanted for Christmas or for his birthday, he always replied, “So that you are happy.”
Verner passed away from his parents, son Finn, granddaughter Lauren, brother Gunner and uncle Soren. Verner is survived by his wife Birthe, his son and daughter-in-law Kent and Patty, his daughter Lisa and the grandchildren John and Julia. The family would like to thank the many family members and friends who have made numerous calls or sent letters over the past year to check into Verner. We would also like to thank Nichole and Betty from Alternative Care, who gave Verner caring help in his last months and made Birthe’s life a little easier. Finally, we would like to thank Hoffman Hospice for helping Verner and his family over the past few days.
Let’s all raise a glass to Verner and say skål!
Services will be held at the grave in Arvin South Kern Cemetery on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 11 a.m. The Pallbearers are Andy Stenderup, John Stenderup, Julia Stenderup, Guadalupe Moreno, Chris Vandborg and Juan Zepeda. Honorary holders are Arnold Johansen, Aaron Jones, Gene Lundquist, Gene Mangrum, John Martin and Phillip Pinheiro. Please do not hesitate to donate to a charity of your choice in Verner’s honor.
Posted in Bakersfield Californian on February 21, 2021.