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Published: Tuesday, 11/1/2005

Farmer ran orchard on Catawba Island

PORT CLINTON John N. Bergman, proprietor of a well-known Catawba Island orchard who also worked the night shift at a GM parts plant in Sandusky, died Friday in an accident on his farm. He was 76.

Mr. Bergman was killed when he accidentally backed his lawn tractor over the edge of a creek bank, and it overturned and crushed him, a daughter, Gail Bergman, said.

Mr. Bergman became a full-time farmer at age 18, having found a true calling in raising fruits and vegetables, Ms. Bergman said.

The 140-acre orchard, which bore the family name, was best known to the public, but Mr. Bergman also cultivated vegetables on 175 acres nearby. The limestone-rich soil and mild climate of the Marblehead peninsula was especially ideal for peaches, Ms. Bergman said.

Ms. Bergman said her father instilled pride in farming in all his children, so much so that all four still work on the property, as do two of eight grandchildren. And for 30 years, he worked in the bearings department at General Motors to ensure his family a steady income, she said.

He found joy in simple things. He would take delight in finding the biggest cantaloupe in the field, she said.

Mr. Bergman is survived by his wife of 55 years, Donna; sons, Barry and Dan; daughters, Gail Bergman and Jody Stires; sisters, Marian Hirt and Marlene Phalin, and eight grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in St. Paul Lutheran Church, Danbury Township. The Neidecker, LeVeck & Crosser Funeral Home, Peninsula Chapel, handled arrangements. The family suggests tributes to the church.

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