Edward W. Berger, who devoted much of his life to public service in the Oregon school system, died at Mercy St. Charles Hospital Tuesday. He was 89.
Mr. Berger, of Oregon, suffered from a heart condition and fought off several different infections over the past two years, his daughter Elaine Webb said.
“He was just in a weakened condition from repeated infections, and the antibiotics did not work anymore,” Mrs. Webb said.
He first learned of his heart problems when he was 34 years old. His doctor said that rheumatic fever had damaged his heart.
“The doctor told him to get his affairs in order because he didn’t have long to live. He would like to say, ‘I proved them wrong,’ ” Mrs. Webb said.
During that initial health scare, Mr. Berger had six children between the ages of 1 and 15. His devotion to his children and civic sensibility prompted him to get involved with the Parent Teacher Association, his daughter said.
He was elected to the Oregon Board of Education as a Republican in 1963 on his first bid for public office. He served on the board for about 12 years, including one term as president, Mrs. Webb said.
He later became the school district’s administrative assistant in charge of transportation and truancy in 1976, a position he held until he retired in 1988.
“He had a wonderful work ethic and taught his six children to be that way,” his daughter said.
Mr. Berger was born on July 29, 1924, in Jerusalem Township, and both of his parents, Martin and Frances Berger, died before he was five years old. He was taken in by Dorothy and Charles Hosley, who raised him on their family farm.
He met his future wife, Audrey Fangman, at Clay High School, and the sweethearts embarked on a nearly 69-year marriage shortly after his 1945 graduation.
“He was the love of her life, and they spent many happy years together. They started off very poor and made a good life for themselves,” Mrs. Webb said.
After he retired, Mr. Berger became even more active in Christ United Methodist Church in Oregon, of which he was a charter member from its 1957 construction. Mr. Berger was a well-known and beloved congregant, said Don Charlton, his close friend and fellow church member.
“He was an all-around gentleman and Christian. He was always willing to help others and helped out in a heartbeat,” Mr. Charlton said.
Mr. Berger enjoyed singing in the church choir and remained active in the group until recently. He also served on the church parish committee and administrative board.
Surviving are his wife, Audrey; daughters, Cheryl Garlow and Elaine Webb; sons, Ed, Glenn, Jon, and Wes Berger; 16 grandchildren, and 20 great grandchildren.
Wake services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the funeral at 11 a.m. in Christ United Methodist Church, 5757 Starr Ave.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.
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