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Talivaldis M. "Tali" Berzins (1917-2004)

From the February 10, 2004 Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, Iowa):

Talivaldis M. "Tali" Berzins, 86, of 2608 Mineral St., died at 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, 2004, at home.

Memorial services will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Blades Chapel at the University of Dubuque. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Siegert-Casper Colonial Funeral Home, 390 N. Grandview Ave., where there will be a wake service at 4 p.m. by the Masonic Lodge 125 A.F.&A.M.

He was born on March 11, 1917, in Lubana, Latvia, son of Marcis and Olga (Kirsons) Berzins. He married Erna Bunde on May 24, 1942.

In 1938, Tali graduated from the Technological Institute in Riga, Latvia, and served as railroad stationmaster with the Latvian Railroad System in Smiltene, Latvia, until 1944.

During World War II, when the Eastern Front collapsed and the Red Army advanced to occupy the Baltic states, he and his family escaped to Germany, where they were forced to work in a German labor camp on German railroad lines until the end of the war (1945). During the ensuing tumult, his family was moved through 12 different displaced persons camps in Germany (1945-1950), while Tali served in the British Rhein Army as a heavy truck driver. In 1950, his family immigrated to the United States and settled near Elizabeth, Ill., where they were sponsored by the Derinda Trinity Lutheran Church and the Louis Haug family.

He moved to Galena, Ill., in 1951, and worked at the Galena Foundry. The family moved to Iowa in 1954, living first near Andrew and then farming near Bellevue. During this time, Tali worked at Clinton Engines in Maquoketa, Iowa, from 1952 to 1960. He and his family became naturalized United States citizens in 1956. The family moved to Dubuque in 1960, where Tali worked as a tool-and-die maker at John Deere Dubuque Works from 1960 to 1985.

After his retirement, he resumed painting and taking courses at the University of Dubuque and Clarke College. His art has been exhibited at the Roberta Kuhn Center (solo show, 1985), the University of Dubuque, Dubuque Museum of Art and Dubuque Bank and Trust. As a silversmith, he designed and created Latvian ethnic jewelry, and as a skilled trapshooter, he won numerous trophies.

He was an avid photographer and a member of the Dubuque Camera Club. He also was active in the Dubuque Kiwanis Club, the Isaac Walton League and the YMCA. He was the Iowa Senior Chess Master in 1990 and 1991. Tali also was a member of the Mosaic Lodge 125 of Masons, Dubuque, a 32 degree member of the Clinton Scottish Rite Bodies, Valley of Clinton, Iowa, and a member and former officer of Dubuque High Club 119.

Surviving are three children, Aivars (Jacqueline) Berzins, of Carlsbad, Calif., Inese (Joe Guzman) Cederbaums, of Pearl River, N.Y., and Mirdza Erika Berzins, of Evanston, Ill.; three grandchildren, Larisa, Alex and Aimee; three great-grandchildren, Logan, Hannah and Haley; a brother, Elmars Berzins, of Galena; two nephews, William (Pauline, Lindsey, Taylor) and Jim Berzins; two nieces, Mara Harkins and Anda Bockis; and relatives in Latvia, Godmother, Dzidra Luika, and her family.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Hospice of Dubuque.

The family would like to thank the caring staff of Hospice of Dubuque and Dr. Compton and his staff.

Additional note from the U. S. Chess Federation (USCF): Mr. Berzins was a Senior member of the USCF with an over-the-board chess rating of 1716. He will be sadly missed from the chess community.