The late Richard Berg, in this undated studio portrait from Ottawa, began his career as a teacher in Port Alberni, the same community where he grew up. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Alberni Valley Community Foundation receives large bequest from Berg estate

Richard Berg lived most of his life in the Alberni Valley

Richard Berg was known for his blunt assessments about Port Alberni City Council and the decisions they made—especially when he disagreed with them. His acerbic letters to the editor were sure to bring vociferous debate around the city’s water coolers.

One thing about Berg, though, that people could not dispute: he cared deeply about the community where he grew up, then later returned to in order to teach

The Alberni Valley Community Foundation discovered this fall just how much the late Berg loved his community: the AVCF has received $135,000 from Berg’s estate. The money will be invested to help the foundation generate income in perpetuity for the benefit of local charities—about $5,000 per year.

The donation “was a surprise,” AVCF chairperson Hugh Grist said. “I didn’t know he was going to leave that.

“His views were not always unanimously approved by many in the community, including myself; however, his love for the Alberni Valley was never questioned.”

Berg, who was 76 when he died, lived most of his life in the Alberni Valley. His father, Jack Berg, born in Norway, became a leading log scaler in the Alberni Inlet, according to Richard’s friend and local historian, Frank Holm. Berg’s mother, Kathleen, was from the pioneer Wood family, who owned what became Alberni Pacific Sawmill.

Richard Berg lived in the neighbourhood of his first school, Eighth Avenue Elementary. He graduated from Alberni District High School in 1959.

Academically inclined, Richard earned a Bachelor of Arts (English) from the University of B.C. and went to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. for his Masters of Arts (English). “He specialized in studies under the 1960s literary guru, Marshal McLuhan,” Holm said. “Richard became a fellow at Toronto’s Massey College, followed by teaching jobs at colleges in London and Vancouver.

“For a decade he was a tour guide at the St. Roch display of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. He then worked for CBC in Prince Rupert, and for CJAV (now 93.3 PEAK FM).”

When Berg moved back to Port Alberni he was a substitute teacher and president of that group. He also joined the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (IHS).

“Mr. Berg was a caring community watchdog, attending hundreds of city council and school district meetings,” Holm said.

(He) was well known locally for his frequent letters to the editor. In his final year he was served well by our hospital and hospice.

“Two of his elementary school buddies were still his good friends.”

Berg left several generous donations to other charities, including the Vancouver Foundation, UBC and University of Western Ontario.

“Richard Berg will be remembered for his kindness, trying to make his communities even better places,” Holm said.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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