Brent Loberg donned Santa suits and wigs, danced and used comedy to engage the crowds that filled his Duluth auction house each week as he sold off everything from cherished antiques to relics of the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald.
Hundreds came to 2103½ W. 3rd St. simply to laugh and be part of the convivial atmosphere inside Sellers Auction, where Loberg held auctions for more than 40 years.
"That was their Monday night fun," said Loberg's son, Brent, of Eagan. "People loved to come and see him. They loved to be entertained by Dad. He built a community."
Loberg died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack Jan. 1 at his home in Duluth. He was 62.
Loberg, a native of Duluth, graduated from Denfeld High School and from the Missouri School of Auctioneering.
He founded Sellers and was licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He conducted farm and estate sales in Duluth and the surrounding area.
In 2010, Loberg auctioned off items believed to have been recovered from the Edmund Fitzgerald, the ore freighter that sank in Lake Superior during a storm in November 1975. The items included four paddles allegedly from one of the ship's life rafts, an embroidered ship blanket that reportedly belonged to a cook who missed the Fitzgerald's final voyage because of an illness and clips and photos documenting the ship's demise.
Loberg was a member of numerous nonprofits and charitable organizations in Duluth, including the Masons, Shriners Club, the Royal Order of Jesters, West Duluth Men's Business Club Association, Lions Club and the Sunset Golf League.
He often donated his services to those organizations, and others such as the Beaver River Christian School, the Duluth Boys and Girls Club, Minnesota Ballet and scores of churches.
"I can't imagine how much money he raised for those charities," said Mickey Greene, one of Loberg's early partners. "He took time out of his nights and weekends. He was just a community guy."
Gary Lepisto, who has worked at Sellers Auction in the Lincoln Park neighborhood for the past 14 years, said Loberg never turned down anybody who came to him for help.
Loberg started his career in the 1970s, and as word got around, he became the auctioneer of choice for many sellers, said those who knew him.
"He was always fun to work with, but he was a tough act to follow," Lepisto said. "He liked being around people and was always quick with a joke, keeping the people engaged. He always had command of the crowd."
He and his wife, Carlotta, also owned and operated Wolff's Flower Shop.
In addition to his wife and son, Loberg is survived by a daughter, Blythe Aldrich, of Andover; a brother, Jack, of Fridley, and five grandchildren. Services have been held.