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Obituary: Joan Blair Berg

Joan Blair Berg weighed in just under 3 lbs. when she arrived “by stork” Oct. 30, 1921, in Livingston, MT.  Her parents, Halsey and Frances Blair, warmed her in the oven in a cotton-lined shoebox.  Although Joan grew up in Livingston with her grandparents, aunts, and uncles living on the same block, she always wanted more family. Later she would marvel that for an only child she had created a “regular dynasty.”

She attended college at St. Kate’s in St. Paul and University of MT. During WWll she returned home to work as a “parts man” at the Blair Motor Co. Her father, Halsey, had to install an extra phone line since Joan kept one line tied up.

Joan married Ben Berg on June 15, 1947. They started their family in Livingston and moved the family to Bozeman in 1957. They enrolled the kids in ski lessons and soon took up the sport themselves. For many years, Joan and a pack of Bozeman friends skied almost every day. Ben and the family joined her on weekends and in the interim survived on her bottomless pots of stew. Joan and Ben shared memorable times with friends golfing, exploring and discovering that “the melding of two picnics to form one great one” was the way to go. They survived and enjoyed several pack trips in the Bob Marshall and the Spanish Peaks. They were fortunate to travel in Europe and the U.S.- Joan was game to go anywhere.

The “Berg Manor” was always open. Summers were fun-filled with relatives and friends from around the country. Her close friend, Marion Manfredi, came with her family from New York City most summers, but Joan always said, “Marion was never company.”  Joan and Ben were always ready to host and the rates at the Berg hostel never changed.

Later on, the Bergs wintered in Lake Havasu, AZ with old friends and new friends.  Ben was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so Joan devoted much of her time to his care. During this time Joan felt supported by her Catholic faith. Her rosary was always at hand.  She was an avid reader and she tended her rose garden, admiring it from the patio during “happy hour.”  She tried to “live and enjoy each day!”

Joan was an active member of PEO for 71 years and co-founded the AU Chapter in Bozeman. She was also an active alumna of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She loved meeting people and finding common connections. The family is thankful for her many friends and neighbors especially the “wonderful Doods”.  We are grateful for Dr. Castillo and Dr. Adams, and the amazing staff at Birchwood and Hospice of Bozeman Health for caring for Joan with warmth and dignity.

Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Ben Berg. She is survived by her step-brother, Don Blair; half-sister, Lisa Theil; and by her “dynasty”: children, Babs (Bill) Leaphart, Kathy Berg, Ada (Jim) Lee, Halsey (Cristina) Berg ; and grandchildren, Rebecca Leaphart (Ben Brouwer), Retta Leaphart (Jeremy Osborn), Ada Leaphart (Sean Leahy), Rachael (Bryant) Munday, Joanna (Pat) Lozar, Randi Berg and Katrina Berg; plus seven great-grandchildren and counting.

The family suggests memorial donations be made to Hospice of Bozeman Health, HRDC, or a charity of your choice.

A Funeral Mass for Joan will take place on Friday, Jan. 25 at 11:00 A.M. at Holy Rosary Parish.  A Memorial Service is planned for Saturday, Jan. 26 at 11:00 A.M. at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, 113 S. Willson Ave. Following Saturday’s service, the family invites you to stop by the Berg’s at 1403 W. Koch for refreshments and reminiscing.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com

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