Harold Eldon Berger
Harold Eldon Berger passed away peacefully on March 26, 2019 at Tuality Hospital. Cause of death was congestive heart failure. He had just celebrated his 82nd birthday; excellent treatment by Home Healthcare providers gave him "six extra innings (months) of life."
He was born in Portland, Oregon on March 13, 1937, the oldest son of Henry and Edna (Stucki) Berger. He grew up on a dairy farm on Cornelius Pass Road in Hillsboro and attended the original Orenco Grade School. At that time Hillsboro was a rural area where he played with his Imbrie cousins and worked on the farm, along with his four siblings and numerous cousins of the Berger and Zurbrugg families.
Harold was baptized at Bethany Presbyterian Church which he attended his entire life. Active in 4-H, he was chosen to represent Oregon at the National Convention in Chicago in 1955 as "The Healthiest Boy in Oregon," a title of which he was proud, but also teased. He played basketball for Hilhi, graduating in 1955; he also served as Senior Class President. Harold graduated from OSU in 1963, with a degree in pharmacy and membership in Sigma Chi fraternity. He served in the Army for two years, being stationed at the Pentagon where he worked as a cryptographer during the Eisenhower years.
Always a Beaver supporter, for many years Harold kept football statistics in the press box; he also held season tickets and attended bowl games. Harold was a true Beaver, following baseball, football and basketball.
Following graduation, his first job was at Beall's Medical Center Pharmacy, where he met his wife, Judy. They were married on December 26, 1965, recently celebrating their 53rd anniversary. In 1968, they traveled in Europe for six months in a VW Camper. He was able to ski in the Alps and Judy was able to introduce him to art museums, history and politics. His mother, Edna, joined them as they visited Stucki relatives still living in the Bernese Oberland. He was very proud of his 100% Swiss heritage and in succeeding years, returned to Switzerland with Judy and family many times, also tracing his roots at the National Archives in DC, at Ellis Island and in an Ohio cemetery.
Harold worked as a pharmacist for Fred Meyer in Portland and Beaverton, then at Hank's in Hillsboro where he retired in 1992. During these years, he was active at Bethany Presbyterian Church, serving as Elder, Trustee and as a participant on many committees.
Always of interest to Harold was the financial world. He was a founding member in a stock club, Penny Ante Plungers, rarely missing a monthly meeting over 50 years. The first thing he watched on TV every weekday morning was CNBC for the stock market report. His monthly poker group was also a "must" for 50 years.
During his younger years, Harold enjoyed water skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, slow pitch softball, tennis and biking. In 1995 he completed Cycle Oregon, after a year of training. He also participated in Meals on Wheels for several years.
Family was of great importance to Harold, who eventually held the position of "the patriarch." Last August he joined 35 other family members as they spent three days together at their annual family reunion, including dining on the Portland Spirit. He was always in charge of the nightly poker games, educating all the younger members on the latest games.
Harold's immediate family was primary to his life; he was so proud of both daughters as he guided them on their careers. Both girls graduated from PLU in Tacoma. Heidi has worked for CNN for 18 years, currently as an executive editor in London; Heather has taught elementary school for 20 years, presently with the Edmonds, Wash. School District. She lives in Seattle, with husband, Garett and children Jordan, 7 and Haley, 2. Harold loved being a grandfather to both.
After their retirements he and Judy continued their love of travel with many trips throughout the US and Europe, taking part in both independent trips and over 30 Elderhostel (Road Scholar) trips. Europe was the main focus, especially when Heidi moved to London. They biked around Lake Constance, followed the Rembrandt trail in Holland, and made trips back to Switzerland whenever possible. When Heather was teaching in Malaysia in 1997, they spent a month visiting Asian countries.
Harold had certain "musts" on his Bucket List: one was to watch a game played in every Major League baseball park. He was successful at that, and for many years, attended spring training in Arizona. He also attended a World Series game in Minneapolis. Another "must" was to attend a Kentucky Derby, which he, Judy and Heidi did in 2004. Every year he wanted bets to be given to him, even when Heather was on the Semester at Sea or Heidi was producing a tennis show. Friends and neighbors were also involved in this competition. A third "must" was to watch matches courtside at Wimbledon, which he accomplished.
Harold had a long and full life, enjoying it to the end. On the Saturday night before his passing, he cheered the Oregon State girls' basketball team as they beat Boise State in overtime.
Harold was preceded in death by his brother, Wayne. He is survived by his wife, Judy, daughters Heidi Berger and Heather Slettebak (Garett); grandchildren Jordan and Haley Slettebak; sisters Lee (Don) Weber, Evelyn (Warren) Dunkin, Kathy (Ray) Orlaske; sister-in-law Pat Berger, one niece and several nephews.
A memorial service has been held. The family suggests donations be made to Bethany Presbyterian Church or to the charity of your choice.