Evelyn Goldberg Briggs

The gifting of a building by David Goldberg, a well-known local businessman, made the original Iron River Public Library possible. The library is named for David Goldberg’s mother Evelyn Goldberg Briggs.

Evelyn Florence Nelson was born in 1911 on a farm in Wills, 10 miles south of Iron River. She lived there with her father, Oscar, who worked for Bayfield County, mother Rena, sister Muriel, and brother Roy. She attended a rural elementary school, walking two miles to and from school. When it was time to attend high school, she boarded in town with the Costello family. After high school, she worked for local businesses mainly in food and beverage. Among those businesses were Norseman Lodge and the Green Top.

She met her husband, Dave Goldberg, when he moved from Superior to take a job as a butcher with the Pomish City Market. They were married by a Justice of the Peace in Bessemer, Michigan, in 1934. They returned to Iron River and told no one as they continued to live separate until they could afford a place of their own.

In approximately 1937, they purchased a partnership interest in the Bargain Basket Grocery with Partner, Albert “Jam” Johnson. Son, David, was born in 1935 and daughter, Lynette, in 1938. In 1942 they purchased the historic three story Pettingill House and embarked on a massive remodel reducing the size with Evelyn doing much of the work herself. They continued to operate the Bargain Basket until Dave died in 1948 of heart failure. She continued to be a partner for a short time until selling to Partner, Johnson. As Dave had no insurance, she went to work to support her family with one or more jobs at the same time as a waitress, bartender, and grocery cashier.

In 1953, she married Raymond Briggs, a bachelor who was a friend of deceased husband, Dave. Ray owned a trucking and excavation business with Nels Wallin. When the taconite plant in Babbitt was under construction, they moved there for two years, both working full-time jobs. The plant construction supervisor was Ray Anderson, who Evelyn worked for at Deep Lake Lodge. When Anderson took a position to supervise construction of an iron ore mine in Liberia, Africa, Ray signed on for two years as an equipment operator and mechanic. When Ray’s contract was scheduled for completion, plans were made for her to travel to Liberia and cruise back to the U.S. Unfortunately, Ray was killed in an industrial accident two months before he was scheduled to finish his tour.

Evelyn returned to Iron River and worked numerous jobs over the years, including working for her future son-in-law Wayne Smith at Hardware Hank. When she and her son Dave purchased a small motel in Ashland called the Bay Manor, she worked at and operated the motel for several years. She returned to Iron River and built a home on Buskey Bay on the Pike Lakes Chain. She lived at the lake for 10+ years before moving to town.

Throughout her lifetime, she was a hard-working, fun-loving lady who loved to dance and meet people. She was known to be willing to try anything: woodworking, gardening, carpentry-you name it — even flying an airplane! Evelyn was an avid hunter and fisher-lady. She made many trips to remote Canada, flying and fishing with son, Dave. She shot her last deer when she was in her 80’s! Also, while in her eighties, she went on a 150-mile snowmobile trip with the younger ladies.

She loved her five grandchildren dearly and was especially close with her daughter, Lynette as they collaborated on many projects. She and her friend, Ann Brozovich, enjoyed a burger and a beer at the Bob and Barb’s Other Place. She spent most of her 86 years in the Iron River area and was a friend to many.
— Her children, Dave Goldberg & Lynette Goldberg Smith