After almost a century of an enriching life, our husband, father, grandfather and great friend passed away peacefully on Dec. 15, 2020, with his wife and soulmate of 52 years, Marilyn, and family at his side in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Charles Donald Floberg was born on Dec. 16, 1922, in Tacoma, Washington, to Charles and Mary (Peterson) Floberg, both immigrants from Sweden. The youngest of four children, including twin brothers, Don grew up in Tacoma and attended the University of Washington in the early 1940s, earning money for his tuition by becoming an Arthur Murray dance instructor. He always was the best dancer on the floor throughout his life. Within a few years, he found his way into real estate in Bellevue, Washington, and discovered he had incredible natural skills as a salesman. It was a passion he pursued for the rest of his life.
When Don first visited Montana in the late 1950s, he fell in love with the state and its abundant sunshine compared to Seattle. He moved his family, including his twins, to Billings and set up a one-man shop in a construction shed behind the newly built Buttrey’s store on Grand Avenue in December 1959: Don Floberg Properties. From this humble beginning, Don built a successful real estate brokerage business that remains known for its top training and standards in the Billings area and as one of the top offices in the U.S. in the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services network.
When he moved to Montana, all you needed was $5 to become a licensed agent, and $10 to be a licensed broker. He was appalled at the low standards and began working to change the professionalism of the industry in Montana. He lobbied for required qualification exams and for both preliminary and ongoing continuing education. He also was instrumental in bringing the Graduate REALTOR Institute to Montana. It is one of his legacies that every person who purchases real estate in Montana can benefit from the services of an educated professional when making one of the most significant investments in their lives.
Some 55 years later, after serving their industry and community in many capacities, Don and his wife and co-broker, Marilyn, were recognized for their contributions to Montana business and commerce when they were inducted into the Montana Business Hall of Fame in 2015. At that ceremony, Don shared his belief that the road to success had only one path: The Golden Rule. It brought the audience to give him the smiles he so loved.
Don met Marilyn in the mid-1960s, and they married on Christmas Day, 1968, blending their six children together. After the children were all on their own, Don and Marilyn moved to Mission Ridge and gifted their two-story family home, which was adjacent to Billings Clinic, to the Billings Clinic Foundation as The Floberg House to be used for gatherings, classes, receptions, dinners, interviews and offices. In 2018, the whole family was blessed to be invited by the Foundation to use the home they made together to celebrate Don and Marilyn’s 50th anniversary with a Family Reunion on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Don was always a participant on the playing field of life, never a spectator. When he saw something that needed doing, he charged ahead and got it done. His advice to his children was … “be a salesman” or, in other words, take action. Also honored as Philanthropist of the Year, two of his charitable interests stand out: Playhouse Parade, which has raised over $500,000 for at-risk youth in Billings; and Maps For Kids, which provides laminated colored U.S. and Montana Lewis & Clark maps for all first and fourth graders in the state of Montana. Over 250,000 children have enjoyed these maps.
He was admired, respected and, most of all, loved by his family and associates for his humor, quick wit, generous spirit and caring disposition. He had a special way of communicating with people from all walks of life. He will be greatly remembered for always accomplishing his daily goal: to make someone smile.
Family was his most important focus, and he leaves a unique and meaningful impact on all he loved. The whole family took part in creating the Banjo Ranch, a 31-acre slice of land along the East Rosebud River. It was the focal point where his family could gather, camp out, build their cabin, go fishing, ride horses, pick chokecherries, ride in the Red Lodge Parade, chop wood, blaze trails, sleep in tepees and enjoy nightly blazing campfires by the river. Traveling on a train wherever in the world one can go was Don’s favorite vacation, and cruise ships and camping with Marilyn his favorite way in later life.
He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; and children: Andrew Floberg, David Bjornson, Kim Floberg, Dana (Gabrielle) Bjornson, David Floberg, his Austrian exchange student son, Josef (Claudia) Eder, and son-in-law Jon Carlson and Beth Gilleland. All of his grandchildren learned great life lessons from Grandpa Don: Blake Bjornson, Nick Bjornson, Daniel (Jordan) Bjornson, Chase Bjornson, Kate Floberg, Kristina (Max) Bjornson, Emma (Jake) Parks, Alexandra (Sebastian) Carlson and son Gabriel, Denny Carlson, Isabella Baker, Birgit Eder and Hanna Eder. He was preceded in death by his twin daughter Andre Carlson, his brothers and sister, and his parents.
Marilyn and the family thank Catholic Hospice for their loving care, and Randy Jacobs and Everton Golding, who were his caregivers and dear friends the past several years — Don greatly valued their friendship and love.
A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date when it’s safer for all to gather.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Billings Clinic Foundation, MSU Billings Foundation, or the charity of your choice. Condolences may be made at www.TMRalph.com and www.michelottisawyers.com .