Vernice Donna June Berg
June 1, 1931 – August 2, 2021
If asked to re-live a favorite moment from her 90 years on this earth, Donna Berg might well find herself in southwestern Michigan watering the flowers in her lake house’s garden while watching her beloved husband Herb prepping their pontoon boat for a floating lunch on the lake. Lunch guests would likely include family members visiting from Chicago, Boulder, northern Wisconsin or just the other side of the small lake where they lived. Donna would be smiling, content in knowing that the flowers looked great and the toasted, triple-decker BLT sandwiches were fully assembled and ready for a lunch cruise that would be filled with conversation and laughter.
Donna’s life, like most, was filled with wins and losses. Her losses were personal and painful. She lost her father, Arnie Solomon Kivisto while she was still in high school and her younger sister, Marlene Plys, while in her 30’s. Herb, the love of her life, died just months before retirement, robbing them of their long-awaited golden years. Her youngest son, Bill, would die a couple years later at just 42 years of age.
Donna’s wins, like so many women of her generation, never placed her in the spotlight and would inevitably fall into the “Best Wife (or Mom) in a Supporting Role” category. Yet, whether out of resignation or selflessness, she seemed genuinely okay with that reality. For her 50th high school reunion, she wrote “Looking back, my greatest accomplishments are my three sons and seeing now that each is doing well with their lives”. Donna was wise enough to know the joy of giving and the reality that there is no greater gift than the gift of unconditional love.
Donna and Herb eloped when Donna was 19. Pat was born in Chicago when she was 20. Herb had only a high school diploma but worked hard as an entry level construction company laborer. Early on, his position seemed firmly entrenched at the very bottom of the company’s totem pole. Over the years, he pursued a college education at night while laboring during the day. With Donna giving birth to Gary and to Bill, she had her hands full caring for three big boys and her husband. Her supporting role allowed Herb to graduate from the University of Chicago’s Executive MBA program and work his way to the top of the totem pole, becoming President of a significant commercial construction firm with offices in Chicago, northern Indiana and Kalamazoo.
After Herb’s death, Donna moved from Kalamazoo to the Tucson area for a few years before settling in Boulder for the last 15 years of her life. She spent most of those years at The Academy where she loved her retirement life and made many friends. She was particularly close to her next-door neighbor, Marge Lukas. Her deep religious beliefs allowed her to pass peacefully through her final weeks, content in the knowledge that she would soon be re-united with Herb and other loved ones who passed before her. Among those remaining behind are her two sons, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren, all of whom she adored.
A celebration of Donna’s life will be held via Zoom at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 12th. For remote access to the celebration on Zoom, please email email@example.com or call The Academy at (303) 475-9172 for more information.
In lieu of flowers, Donna’s family would be delighted by a donation to the charity that touches you the most.