|Birth: ||Feb. 15, 1922|
|Death: ||Sep. 28, 2009|
Thomas Olof Berg , 87, died on September 28, 2009 at 7:19 p.m. in Round Rock, Texas. He was born on February 22, 1922 in Butte, Montana. He was the fourth child of six born to Swedish immigrants Nils Sven Berg and Josephine Maurina Berggren. Tom attended public school in Butte until he contracted spinal meningitis rendered him completely deaf at age 6. He attended the Montana School for the Deaf and later moved with the family to Seattle, Washington where his father, a grocer, owned a grocery during the Great Depression.
Tom's father was a pillar in the community and achieved great success. However, the Great Depression would create hard times and Tom's father lost a small fortune when the banks crashed.
As a child, Tom was taught the value of hard work and had wonderful role models in his parents. He would deliver groceries for his father on his bicycle and he would help his mother, a consummate seamstress, by helping with housework. This would be necessary as his father died when Tom was only 16. A tragic suicide is never over for any family and his father's passing and the loss devastated his family and Tom, not to mention his progeny.
Grief has no expiration date, and Tom would plunge himself into work, school, sports, and the great outdoors. He was an avid fly fisherman. Tom would later attend the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver where he graduated with honors in 1939.
A very intelligent man, he earned a scholarship to attend Gallaudet University and graduated in 1944 with a B.S. in Chemistry. He would later earn his M.A. in Education from the University of Maryland in 1964, no small feat attending classes without interpreters and relying on the goodwill of classmates to share their notes. Bless them.
He was a voracious reader and had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He had a library that was impressive and varied-from Steinbeck, Hemingway to Faulkner. He valued education and instilled this trait in his three children, Frederick, David and Jennifer.
Tom would excel in all sports lettering in wrestling and track and field. He met the love of his life while attending college. Betty Hogan, a spirited rancher's daughter, captured his heart and they were married on June 6, 1945 in Southeast Idaho, Betty's home. The first few months of their marriage they lived in Seattle where Tom worked as a chemist in a vitamin plant. He and Betty moved to Frederick, Maryland where they both taught at the Maryland School for the Deaf. A year later, the pull for moving back west was great and they both accepted teaching jobs at the Idaho School for the Deaf.
Two sons, Fred and Dave, would be born there in Idaho. Tom's reputation grew within the deaf sport's community. He helped to produced stellar athletes and coached basketball and track. He would later send many athletes to the World Games for the Deaf (the Deaf Olympics). He was very modest and did a lot of "behind the scenes" work.
In 1956, fate would take them to Washington, D.C. where Tom accepted a position at his alma mater, Gallaudet University, as the Assistant Dean of Students. His office was always full of students wanting advice, care, and direction. He was sincere and not prone to engage in posturing or politics. He was a rare breed and very deep. He was an amazing man who lived a pretty amazing life, traveling the globe to several Olympics with wife Betty.
He was in the pantheon of great athletes and earned Small Coach of the Year award in Newsweek magazine. The Knute Rockne award was also earned and he was most proud of this achievement.
A westerner at heart, he often pined for his roots. He would retire from Gallaudet in 1986 and move with Betty back west, settling in Colorado Springs. Dad received an honorary doctorate in 1997 by Gallaudet University for his many contributions to the field of spots education and the deaf. True to form, he never swaggered or used "Dr" in any of his correspondence, but he could have. Because he earned it the hard way. He toiled on an outdated track field at Gallaudet University to improve its conditions so that track athletes could hit peak performance. He believed that students, hearing or deaf, need a healthy outlet of expression other than the classroom alone.
He and Betty would be involved in the deaf community of Colorado and enjoyed their retirement. They moved to Texas two years ago to be closer to their daughter, Jennifer. He developed new friendships at the Parkwood Meadows Retirement Home where he lived the last two years. Imagine-the only deaf residents in an entirely "hearing" community.
Tom was of prime age to be in the military service during World War II and was often stared at in the streets of Washington, D.C during his college days. He was extremely athletic , but deafness is an invisible disability. He wanted to serve his country, but he did it in other ways. He did not let his deafness get in his way and never took upon himself an entitlement attitude. He was very self-reliant and would instill this trait onto his children. He also believed in helping others and giving someone a leg up. This served him well as an educator of the deaf and he was well respected and well liked. Tom was trustworthy, kind, compassionate, well-read, understated, and he was a legend. He told his wife a month ago "you don't know how much I love you." Their love and commitment to one another is a testament of strength, faith and character to anyone as they were married for 64 years.
He did not cut and run when the going got tough. Life threw him some curve balls and he handled them with aplomb. He loved his three kids dearly. Tom is survived by his wife, Betty, children Fred, David, and Jennifer.
Also surviving him is daughter-in-law Chris, grandchildren Sarah, Erika, David and Trina and former son-in-law, Mark Howell, and former daughter-in-law Pilar. He is also survived by two brothers, Arthur Hugo and Frederick Sven Berg and a legion of other relatives in the Northwest.
Two months prior to this giant's passing, he was able to visit family in Idaho and say his farewells to members on both sides of the family. He endured long rides in the SUV without complaint as his hip bone could be heard from 10 feet away. His body practically worn out, he made a trek that was compelling as it was soulful and spiritual.
He was able to sit on his walker seat as his daughter cast a fish line countless times in an Idaho pond and he reeled in 9 beautiful rainbow trout. Those moments thrilled him. The vast beauty of his native West was a sight for sore eyes - - his blue eyes enveloped the scenery with great respect, awe, and wonder. And he was able to appreciate life until the very end. Tom was a private man and had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He believed in the tenets and virtues that are time honored without preaching to anyone. He could be complex -- he was a very serious and good man.
Two days after his admission into the hospital his words were "I am sorry." He was apologizing for being sick. That was the way he was-not wanting to worry anyone. His sense of duty and honor was inspirational.
Memorial Services were held on October 1, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. at the Beck Funeral Home, Round Rock, Texas, (512)244-3772 Further services were held at the Bancroft, Idaho Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints on October 3, 2009 at 12:00 p.m. Graveside service followed in Chesterfield, Idaho.
TIMOTHY 4: 7 I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donate be made to either the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts of America, AAAD/USADF, or Bestfriends.org
Nils Berg (1887 - 1938)
Maurina Josephine Berggren Berg (1890 - 1970)
Nils David Berg (1914 - 1988)*
John Campbell Berg (1917 - 1991)*
Thomas Olof Berg (1922 - 2009)
Created by: Charles Butler
Record added: Jun 13, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 53620924
I really miss you Tom. You're the best buddy I ever had growing up, and my whole life. We will meet again, so bring your athletic gear.|
Added: May. 12, 2013
Added: Mar. 12, 2013
I miss you very much old friend.|
Added: Apr. 30, 2011
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