Sr. Anna Bergeland
By age eighteen, Anna Bergeland had made up her mind to dedicate her life to God by becoming a Lutheran deaconess. This blond young woman, one of eleven children, had been born on April 3, 1891, on a farm near Dawson, Minnesota. She entered the deaconess motherhouse in Minneapolis in 1912, having been required to wait until she was twenty, the minimum age for entrance. There were ten deaconess students in her class, studying nursing and religious studies for three years. During her early years, she was absent for some months due to illness, and she also spent some time at the Chicago motherhouse for special training. She was one of a few young women from various motherhouses who served as deaconesses all their lives, but were never consecrated. In Minneapolis, no deaconesses were consecrated after 1916.
Sister Anna worked all of her life at the Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Minneapolis. She served as assistant superintendent from 1921 to 1928 and became superintendent of the hospital in 1928. She had never taken a course in hospital administration; such courses were not offered by colleges at that time. At her retirement, a newspaper account said, “When she wasn’t wrestling with bills and maintenance problems, Sister Anna was found on the floors comforting a restless patient or homesick child.” The hardest years were during the depression. From 1931 through 1935, the number of patients went down because so many could not afford hospital care. However, Sister Anna reported that in 1936 there was “a remarkable pick-up in business,” and the next year the hospital served more people than ever before in its existence. During thirty-two years as superintendent, the hospital increased in size; she headed three building projects, in 1927, 1948, and 1959.
In addition to heading the hospital, Sister Anna was also Directing Sister from 1946-1960, and often taught Bible classes on Sunday mornings at Trinity Lutheran Church. She retired in 1960, with a recognition dinner given by the hospital in her honor. The speaker was Dr. T. O. Burntvedt, president of the hospital board and retired president of the Lutheran Free Church. After retirement, Sister Anna lived with her sister, Eva Bergeland, a former teacher and counselor in Minneapolis. At her death on February 6, 1979, Sister Anna was buried with other deaconesses in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. She was the last sister of the Minneapolis motherhouse, which ended with her death.