Walter Alexander Berg, age 83, passed away Sunday, September 16, 2018 in Colorado Springs. Walter spent over 44 years calling The Springs his home. He was born on February 20, 1935 to Alexander and Margaret Berg in Fresno, California. Walter grew up in Biola, California, graduating from Central High School. Walter was defined by his desire to see the world and to serve others. He left his farm home in California as soon as he could and enlisted in the Air Force in 1953, at the age of 18 where he would serve his country for the next 21 years. Walter had been in the Air Force for three years stationed in the Netherlands where he took classes to learn the language. This allowed him the opportunity to go on a blind date with his future wife. Who knew this blind date in Hilversum, Netherlands, would lead to a lifetime. Walter met Jacoba VanMunster and immediately fell in love. He married that girl on October 30, 1957. He always remained thankful to his senior Sergeant for setting them up. Walter and Jacoba spent 61 years together. The couple had two sons. Ron was born in the Netherlands before they traveled back to the United States. Their second son John was born while stationed in the Philippines.
Walter received orders to be stationed at Ramstein AFB, Germany. He decided to buy a brand-new car and have it shipped to Germany. Ron, his oldest son, was 8 years old and loved cars of all kinds. Walter decided to buy a Plymouth Valiant. Ron threw a fit because he thought it was an ugly car. He begged and pleaded with his father not to get such an ugly car. A few months later, after arriving in Germany the family went to pick up their new car. Low and behold they drove away in a ‘68 Plymouth Barracuda. Ron was surprised and thrilled to see the Barracuda waiting for them. The family drove that Barracuda all over Europe. Both sons played in the hatchback area with the rear seat folded down and the trunk partition folded flat. The boys sometimes would lay on their backs and watch the sky through the huge slant back window. Everyone loved that car.
While in Germany, Walter bought a book on castles. Whenever they could, he would pull that book out and read to his family about castles. Then the following weekend they would drive to whichever castle they had just read about. Sometimes they would find nothing but ruins with a few walls standing. Other times they would find a full fairy-tale castle. But every drive was an adventure. Some of the best days of their lives.
When Walter discovered Jacoba was pregnant with their second child, they decided to have that child baptized a Catholic (same as their first son). He then promptly decided that if both sons were going to be Catholic, that it was time for him to become a Catholic too. He completed RCIA and was baptized a Catholic on the same day as his second son.
In 1968 he served for a year in Vietnam where he earned the Air Force Meritorious Service award for his work in supporting the Air Reconnaissance wing. While Walter was serving in Vietnam, he would regularly send home tape recordings in place of letters. The family would gather around and listen to those tapes. When Walter returned home, and the family was driving back from the airport, John (Walter’s youngest son) held back. As the car drive went on and Walter was talking, John finally looked at him upon recognizing his voice and said, “I know you, you’re my daddy!”
The day Walter returned home from Vietnam, his wife found him sitting in the kitchen at 4 am crying. When Jacoba asked him what was wrong, he looked at her and said, “I have been looking forward for so long to be back home. Now that I am here, I don’t know what else I can have to look forward to.” Walter loved his family more than anything.
Walter and the family left Germany and moved to Texas. He bought a Corvair Spyder convertible as a second car. His son Ron thought the car was awesome and wanted to help his Dad get it ready to be painted. Walter at the time didn’t know it was going to be painted. One day Walter was out running errands when Ron began to industriously sanded out all of the nicks in the paint along the sides of the Corvair. When Walter returned home, he was not as impressed by Ron’s efforts as Ron had hoped he would be. Ron had no idea why his Dad got so angry – he was only trying to help. But Walter ended up finding a cheap place to get it repainted in its original metal flake gold. Both Walter and Ron agreed that the car looked much better.
Upon retirement from the Air Force in 1974, he moved with his family to Colorado where he worked at K-mart and then achieved his advanced locksmith certification. In 1991 Walter started his own locksmith service. He bought a van and converted it into a mobile locksmith shop. For several years, he drove that van across Colorado Springs helping out families and businesses. He often got calls in the middle of dinner, late at night or during something special, he would often grumble but always go. Ultimately his favorite aspect to this was being called out to help people locked out of their homes and cars. Walter would always go out to help anyone who needed it. He always displayed a true servant’s heart.
In that same year Walter started his business, 1991, his son John was serving as an Army Reservist. John was called to duty and activated for Desert Shield and ordered to Ft. Carson. John’s then girlfriend of 2 months and future wife, Christin, flew out in the middle of the night to Colorado Springs to see John before he was to depart overseas. Walter would end up spending the next several days, while John was at work at Ft. Carson, touring Christin around town and treating her as if she was already the daughter-in-law that she would later become.
Walter was known to accept others immediately as family. In 2002 he and his wife flew out to see their son Ron and meet his new wife Marisa. Marisa made her famous chicken tacos for dinner. Walter loved them and ended up eating 8 tacos in one sitting. It was an epic meal and the family still talks about his love for Marisa’s cooking.
Eventually his work as a locksmith led to him gaining employment at Meadow lake Airport in Falcon, allowing him to return to work around airplanes, one of his passions. He also became a faithful congregational member of the Community Center Chapel for over 40 years, serving in many volunteer roles at the church. He joined the Knight of Columbus, finding another way to be of service to others. He returned to God in September, 2018, after fighting a year-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Walter was first admitted to Pikes Peak Care Center, he was confined to a wheel chair and Alzheimer’s was beginning to take its toll. But Walter was not content to remain in his room and would roll his wheelchair up and down the corridors all hours of the day and night. When staff would pass him, they squeeze his arm or pat his shoulder. He always looked up and smiled. He was never mean and always friendly to everyone in the facility. In his final days as the family was gathered around Walter, several staff members came into the room and shared how much they enjoyed having Walter as a patient.
Walter will be remembered as a great husband, a wonderful father, a loving grandfather and great-grandfather, a good Catholic, and a proud member of The Knights of Columbus, achieving 4th Degree status. He will be remembered as a lover of photography, of traveling, the outdoors and a collector of coins. Walter will be remembered as a United States Airman, a patriot, a hard worker and as an influence to all those who knew him. They don’t make men like Walter anymore…
He is preceded by his parents; one sister Betty Lehman and one brother Chester Berg.
Walter is survived by his wife of 61 years Jacoba J. Berg; two sons, Ron and his wife Marisa Berg; and John and his wife Christin Berg; seven granddaughters, Allise & Josh DeLeon, Abigail & Dustin Henderson, Adrianna & Tirso Rayo, Rachel Berg, Kaylyn Berg, Amelia Berg; one grandson; Jonah Berg; one great-granddaughter, Scotland Henderson; one niece, Carey & Dewayne Selby; and many other family and friends.
The Berg family wishes to express their deepest gratitude to all the caregivers at Pikes Peak Care Center for their care and love of Walter. The family would also like to also express a warm thank you the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Community for their support and kindness to Walter and Jacoba over the last year. The Berg family requests that any donations please be placed with The Knights of Columbus Neighbors Helping Neighbors program (100% of donations go to helping families in need). https://kofc.org/en/secure/charities/annual-appeal.html
The Rosary will be prayed at 10:30am, Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at the Community Center Chapel, 5134 Cathedral Dr. USAF Academy. A Funeral Mass will follow the Rosary at 11:30am, Wednesday, October 3, 2018 in the same location, 5134 Cathedral Dr. USAF Academy.
Arrangements are under the direction of Return to Nature Funeral Home, Colorado Springs, Colorado www.returntonaturecolorado.com