Friends and colleagues of longtime Enfield attorney Robert Berger are mourning the passing of one of the town's most giving and dedicated public servants.
Berger, 88, passed away Wednesday at Eagle Point at the Suffield House.
He was an attorney for 60 years, most recently with the firm of Berger, Santy and Barbieri. He also served as Enfield Probate Judge from 1989 until he reached mandatory retirement age in 1994.
"He was a great Judge of Probate; that job requires kindness and compassion," said retired Police Chief Herbert Foy, who served on numerous committees with Berger. "He was one of the most intelligent people I've ever met; he could talk on any subject. Most of us have limited memory, but he didn't."
Berger served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, including the battle at Iwo Jima. He received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Award.
Among the numerous volunteer posts Berger held during more than six decades of service in Enfield were:
- President, Enfield Rotary Club
- President, Johnson Memorial Hospital Corporation
- President, United Way of North Central Connecticut
- Director, Enfield Visiting Nurse Association
- Chairman, Enrico Fermi High School Building Committee
- Vice Chairman, Enfield Board of Education
- Founding Member, Asnuntuck Community College Board of Directors
- Chairman, Enfield Democratic Town Committee
"He was a well-respected, exceptionally-competent lawyer and public servant in his heyday," attorney and former Democratic Town Chairman Tom tyler said. "His fingerprints are all over many of the things that are good about Enfield."
Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said, "I knew Bob well over the years. He was a gentleman, he had a great love for this community, and he was one of the most patriotic folks I've ever known. I always enjoyed tapping into his vast knowledge of the community, and I'm very sorry to hear of his passing."
Berger never fully retired, according to friends. "He kept telling me he was going to retire, and he finally said he was down to working half a day," Foy recalled.
Berger is survived by his wife, Arlene Kidder Wills Berger; four children, a stepdaughter, 13 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Family and friends will gather Monday, Jan. 7 by 10 a.m. at the Leete-Stevens Enfield Chapels, 61 South Rd., for a funeral procession to St. Bernard Church, 424 Hazard Ave., for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m., followed by military honors. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
Relatives and friends may call at the funeral home Sunday, Jan. 6 from 3-7 p.m.