STURBRIDGE: Axel Gabriel Silverberg, 101, died peacefully in his home in Sturbridge on October 13, 2017. He was born in Auburn, Mass on March 23, 1916 on what was designated as Axel Day on the Swedish church calendars in use at that time. He was the last surviving child of Gabriel Oscar and Vendla both born in Korsnas, Finland. When he was 5 years old his family moved to an area of Sturbridge known as Podunk where he lived the remaining 96 years of his life.
Since Sturbridge had no high school at that time, he and his siblings went to Charlton High School from which he graduated in 1934 along with his future wife May Victoria Clark of Charlton. He worked on construction projects with his father until the war was imminent when he joined Rice Barton in Worcester as a gear cutter. He married May in 1940 and purchased the house from his father. After the war he went back to masonry construction, building many of the stone walls and fireplaces now found in Sturbridge, Spencer and the Brookfields. When they were old enough his sons joined him to help during the summer months.
Building with stone is strenuous work, especially for a 125 lb. man. Few men ever worked harder to support their family than did Axel. Most customers thought his rates were very reasonable and would wait as much as a year for him to fit them into the schedule, which was first come, first served. He was dreadfully honest and genuinely troubled if someone thought he did not provide fair service. With the business to run, a large garden, a dairy cow and getting wood for the furnace he was almost never idle. Like his father he enjoyed fishing and would frequently head to a pond when he had a moment. He and May also enjoyed square dancing until later in life.
In 1988 Axel and May had a chance to travel to Finland to visit the old family homestead and meet his half-sisters who he had never met. He was able to remember enough Swedish from his childhood to carry on a rudimentary conversation, which was a great blessing. He remained close to his large extended family near Podunk, especially his three brothers. The families would all meet 2 or 3 times a year until age began to take its toll. He and May enjoyed travel weekends together with his siblings, calling them the Silverberg Safaris
Axel was never reticent to share his opinions about many topics and loved to argue. His relatives learned to avoid several trigger words, like politicians, taxes, and Vietnam if you wanted to have a quiet visit. As he became hard of hearing in the later years it was doubtful if he ever heard the other side of the conversation, even if it agreed with him.
Axel was preceded in death by his wife May; his brothers, Carl, Ernest, Arvid and Joseph; his sister Karin and his two half-sisters Ethel and Beatrice of Korsnas. He is survived by son Eric, and wife Rhoda, son Evan, daughter Karen and devoted long time caregiver daughter Christine. He also leaves four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
There are no calling hours. A private graveside service was held at West Ridge Cemetery in Charlton.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Tri-Valley Elder Services, 19 Mill St. Dudley, Ma 01571.
Belanger-Bullard Funeral Home, 51 Marcy St. Southbridge directed arrangements.
An online guestbook is available at www.BelangerFuneralHome.com