BERGER, WILLIAM ERNEST (1918 ~ 2018). The following is an obituary for Bill Berger, former member of the Texas Water Commission. The obituary was provided by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home of Austin.
William E. (Bill) Berger, whose career as a newspaperman spanned parts of nine decades, died Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Austin. At age 99, he was less than two months shy of his 100th birthday.
He was born in Ferris, Illinois, to William George and Ethel Nelson Berger, on June 6, 1918. As a young boy, he delivered newspapers to neighbors for a few cents a week in his hometown.
His career in the newspaper business began as a teenager in western Illinois, selling subscriptions, writing stories, delivering papers and doing anything he could to earn a modest living during the Great Depression. He attended Carthage (IL) College and worked at several newspapers in the Midwest as a circulation manager and as an editor.
In July 1942, Berger entered the U.S. Army and was sent to Camp Swift, near Bastrop. Soon after arriving, Home Economics students at the University of Texas hosted a barbecue for the soldiers who were far from home, where he met co-ed Jerry Barnes of Waelder, Texas. Smitten with one another, they were married on Feb. 26, 1943, in the chapel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
After spending four years in the U.S. Army, Bill returned to Texas where he and Jerry purchased the Hondo Anvil Herald in 1946. Working many long hours together, side by side, they published the Anvil Herald and raised three children.
Berger was always intrigued by politics. In 1960, he ran unsuccessfully for State Representative from Hondo, but that didn't curb his interest. In 1962, he was part of the John Connally for Governor campaign in Austin, and he went to Austin again in 1964 to work at the state headquarters of the Lyndon Johnson presidential campaign.
He was appointed to the initial board of the Texas Tourist Development Board in 1963. In 1965, Governor Connally offered Berger an appointment to the Texas Water Commission. Accepting the offer meant relocating the family from Hondo to Austin, which became home for the remainder of his life.
After his term as Water Commissioner expired, Berger worked for other state agencies for 15 years. He brokered newspaper businesses, helping buyers and sellers of publications get together, upon retiring from the state. And he continued to write a weekly column for the Anvil Herald until February of this year when he finally decided to "retire."
They joined First United Methodist Church – Austin in 1965 and remained active members until they were no longer able to attend. Bill was a long-time member of Lions Club International, including the Founders Club in Austin; Sons of the American Revolution; American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; and the Headliners Club of Austin.
He was preceded in death by Jerry, his wife of almost 75 years, his parents, and his two sisters, Helen Berger and Betty Galvin. He is survived by his children Ed (Jan) Berger, Barbara (Glenn) Wilson, and Jeff (Tracy) Berger; grandchildren Meredith (Spencer) Chambers, Emily (Brad) Buchanan, Greg (Jennelle) Berger, Chris (Angela) Wilson, Kevin (Paige) Wilson, and Lexie and Lindy Berger; and great-grandchildren Abby, Will, and Ava Buchanan, Phillip and Braden Chambers, Carson and Trent Berger, and Austin, Reagan, and Anderson Wilson.
The family would like to recognize and thank the staff of the Arbour at Westminster Manor in Austin for their loving care of dad over the past year.
Visitation will be held Sunday, April 15, from 4-6 p.m. at Weed-Corley-Fish, 3125 North Lamar, Austin. Following a private family burial service at the Texas State Cemetery, a memorial service will be held on Monday, April 16, at 2:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1201 Lavaca, Austin.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church (fumcaustin.org), Samaritan's Purse (samaritanspurse.org), or the charity of one's choice.