Mar 16, 1942 – Dec 9, 2017
Our family is extremely saddened to share that Gail Berger died on Saturday, December 9, at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC. The cause of death was a complication from a brain aneurysm and stroke. She was 75.
Gail Marguerite, the youngest of three girls, was born on March 16, 1942 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan to Marguerite and Orval Maywood. After growing up in North Battleford with older sisters Dawn and Pat, Gail graduated from NBCI and then entered Teacher’s College in Saskatoon from which she graduated in 1961.
While enjoying a summer at their family cabin at Jackfish Lake in 1960, she met Klaus Berger. Love bloomed when she volunteered to drive him to the hospital after a minor boating accident. The two were married in 1961 and shortly after moved to Regina. Their first child, Heather, was born in 1962, followed by their son, Michael, in 1964.
The family moved to a small home in Yarrow, BC in 1966. Shortly after, Gail began working as a part-time secretary at Diamond Construction. In 1971, Gail and her family moved to a 10-acre farm just three houses down the road from their previous home.
While raising their family, Klaus and Gail tried their hands at growing raspberries and corn before settling on raising beef cattle for breeding and to show. It was during this time that Gail began work at the Yarrow library, where she served as the Community Librarian for nearly three decades. She also spent several years as a Children’s Librarian in Chilliwack. Through this job, she instilled her love of reading and learning to her family, something that continues to this day with Gail’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Over the years, she met thousands of Yarrow and Chilliwack families and one of her biggest thrills was to see the children of the children she first introduced to the library, come in for story time.
Along with Klaus, in 1986, they transformed their farm into The Apple Farm – a speciality high-density orchard with over 10,000 trees and more than 20 varieties of apples. It was here that Gail’s creative side really shone. On the farm, they built a country store with a bakery, a processing plant, and a picnic garden. In just a few short years, the farm became known locally, nationally, and internationally as busloads of local and foreign tourists would regularly arrive for a warm welcome, a tour of the orchard, some samples while there, and perhaps a quick story or laugh. Children from school districts throughout the Lower Mainland made annual treks to the farm and were entertained with stories told with great engagement by Gail.
After 29 years on the farm, Gail and Klaus made the difficult decision to sell the farm, followed shortly by her retirement from the library. These decisions were made easier by the fact that they would now be able to travel more frequently. In addition to numerous trips to Germany to visit with Klaus’ family (where she also learned to speak German), they travelled throughout Europe.
They also frequently travelled by RV throughout Western North America and Mexico. A particular highlight was their 2004 trip across Canada, down the east coast and through the American south before returning home after 10 months. One of her favourite places on this trip was the time spent in Newfoundland.
Gail had a lifelong interest in the arts – whether it was watching classic musicals and interesting movies, listening to music by Max Raabe, classics by James Last, opera from the New York Met, along with many other artists, attending shows and events, or acting in plays with the Chilliwack Players Guild. She loved to share the stories of Stuart McLean and Garrison Keillor with her grandchildren; it was a family tradition to listen to recordings in the RV while travelling.
Gail was celebrated for her curious and loving spirit, as well as her warmth, sensitivity and sense of humour. She was a superb cook, master storyteller, passionate reader, swimming devotee, inveterate list maker, Scrabble champion, lover of charades, and wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Gail was a long-time member of Beta Sigma Phi, and after retirement, became a member of Probus. She made friends easily, and stories of her travels with Klaus are filled with experiences with people that they had just met, but somehow had become friends with for the rest of her life. Her family dinners were always full of fun, flavour, and friends.
Gail cared deeply for her family, and was proud of their many and varied accomplishments. She loved and supported everyone in the family wholeheartedly – attending sporting events, cheering on graduations, enjoying musical and theatre productions, learning about university studies, and staying up-to-date on everyone’s love life, school, and work.
Gail will be greatly missed by her loving husband of 57 years Klaus Berger, her daughter and son-in-law Heather and Russ Bailie, her son and daughter-in-law Michael and Gillian Berger, her five grandchildren Krista Bailie (Sean Sturm), Corbin Bailie, Caitlin Bailie (Matt Monosky), Patrick Berger, David Berger, her three great-grandchildren Isabella Sturm, Grayson Sturm, and Kayden Monosky, the families of Gail’s sisters Dawn Kellock and Pat Shivak, and many cousins. She lives on in the hearts of all she touched.
A private family service is planned for St. John’s Anglican Church on December 29, 2017.
A celebration of life is planned for March 16, 2018, location not yet confirmed.
In Gail’s memory, donations may be made to the Fraser Valley Regional Library at www.fvrl.bc.ca/donate.php or 45860 First Avenue, Chilliwack, BC V2P 7K1.