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Published: Sunday, 12/25/2005

Owner of shop sold clothing for men

PORT CLINTON - Denny C. Bergeman, who owned and operated Bergeman's Men's Store in Port Clinton for 40 years before retiring in 1993, died Friday in his home above the former store.

He was 90 and died unexpectedly on his 64th wedding anniversary. His death appeared to be caused by a heart attack, his son James said.

The store at 110 Madison St., next to the Island House Hotel, was open six days a week - until 9 p.m. on Friday nights, and typically staffed only by Mr. Bergeman and his wife, Dorothy.

Customers charged purchases simply by signing their name. And some would ask the Bergemans to pick out their clothes, saying only that they needed a new suit and trusting Mr. Bergeman's opinions on style, color, and fabric more than their own.

"My father was a true haberdasher," James Bergeman said.

Mrs. Bergeman did alterations, and her husband was exact in his records for her, measuring both legs and both arms of his customers.

The store carried midpriced, name-brand clothing such as Haggar slacks and Arrow shirts as well as the largest selection of suits, ties, jeans, underwear, belts, and luggage that Mr. Bergeman could get in the store that was 40 feet wide and 200 feet deep. For a time he carried shoes as well.

"He believed in giving the customers lots of choices," James Bergeman said.

In the 1970s, Mr. Bergeman was president of the Port Clinton Lions Club, where he had perfect attendance for 45 years at its twice-a-month evening meetings, and the Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce. He held a top rank in the Knights of Columbus, and oversaw councils throughout northwest Ohio.

He was born in Sandusky County, the youngest of three sons of Hector and Bertha Bergeman, who had come to the United States from Belgium a few years before he was born.

Mr. Bergeman graduated from St. Joseph High School in Fremont, where he was a cheerleader, and was employed at JC Penney Co. At Penney's one of his co-workers was the former Dorothy Sours. They married in 1941. He served in the Army for five years, first in the tank corps and later in communications in Burma.

When he returned to northwest Ohio from World War II, Mr. Bergeman managed a shoe store in Findlay before buying the men's store in Port Clinton in 1953. He joined Immaculate Conception Church when he moved to Port Clinton and ushered there for decades. In the 1960s and '70s he was a Catholic Youth Organization leader.

Mr. Bergeman donated more than 64 pints of blood to the Red Cross over his lifetime. He and his wife traveled in Japan, Spain, Mexico, and the United States. He enjoyed watching sports, especially football and baseball, and played golf.

Surviving are his wife, Dorothy; sons, Dennis and James; and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Gerner-Wolf-Walker Funeral Home, Port Clinton, where a Knights of Columbus 4th degree service will be at 7:30 p.m.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The family suggests memorials to the church school fund.



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