Many of us took advantage of the recent Memorial Day Weekend the kick off of the summer camping season. It’s a great time to load up the family and the RV and enjoy the freedom of the open road and the RV lifestyle. However, let’s not forget the reason for the Memorial Day Holiday. Memorial Day is a time to remember those that have served and died protecting the freedoms we enjoy in this great country.
For my wife and I that meant stopping by the cemetery in Menlo, Washington on our way back from camping at the beach, paying respects to a family friend named Axel Forsman. His ability to speak Swedish earned Axel a linguist desk job in the Pacific during World War II. (enter your own military intelligence joke here). After the war he served as the librarian for the Battle Ground High School until his early death in 1968 from cancer at the age of 49. Axel was an only child, never married and never had children of his own. Fortunately, my father taught in the same high school and Axel was his neighbor, making my brothers and I Axel’s “adopted” children. Axel willed a large portion of his estate so my brothers and I could attend college, which we did. The remaining balance served as partial down payments on our first homes. Upon researching Axel’s past for this blog entry, I discovered another legacy he left. His name is included in the Battle Ground School District’s ‘100 Heroes’ When he passed away he left money for an annual scholarship at the Battle Ground High School. The Axel Forsman Scholarship is still awarded today! Only God knows how many lives have been touched and improved by the legacy of Axel Forsman.
Next Memorial Day I encourage you to seek out a forlorn grave of a veteran, clean the grave stone and maybe do a little online research on the service of that person while you are at it. It may turn out to be one of the most rewarding adventures in RVing you will ever have. Oh’ and don’t worry; your RV will fit in the cemetery even if it does look a bit out of place!
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.