Donald Paul Berger, 93, of Rockville passed away Wednesday, June 30, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. He was born June 23, 1928 in Rockville, the son of the late Frederick and Mary (Regan) Berger. Don lived most of his years in Vernon, the town he loved. In his later years, he lived in South Windsor. At Rockville High, he played varsity soccer and basketball. He began attending the University of Connecticut in 1946 where he played on the National Winning Men’s Soccer Team. He married Jeanette Nolan in 1951 and had a family that grew to nine children. He served in the Air Force from 1950-1952. Don graduated from UConn with a degree in Marketing and a Minor in Physical Education. His first job was at Traveler’s Insurance in Hartford and then made a career change after a friend encouraged him to become a teacher after observing him with kids. He attended Eastern Connecticut State University and received an Emergency Certificate and began his teaching career in Manchester from 1954-1974. He was Director of Parks and Recreation in Vernon for close to 40 years. Some of his proudest accomplishments came through his ability to bring sports programs to the youth of Vernon. He was instrumental in bringing the Little League program to town. He helped organize and was the first President of the Rockville Little League (1950). He served as District 8 Administrator of Little League (North Central Connecticut) for 35 years and served on several national committees. He started the men’s softball program for the town and was influential in adding lights and fencing to the softball field on South Street. He initiated the Nat Schwedel Memorial Swim Meet, Leo B. Flaherty Memorial Road Race, and John Gessay Fishing Derby all of which are still on-going after 30 years. While working as the Parks and Recreation Director he also took on the role of Senior Citizen Director for the Town of Vernon. He took the seniors on many wonderful trips throughout the years. Don loved to travel. He served as president of the local Jaycees, spearheading two major projects: the refurbishment of the Talcottville School and the restoration of the Memorial Tower on Fox Hill. He was on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross, was a member of Industrial Commission, Charter Revision Commission and organized and directed the Junior Achievement Program in Rockville/Vernon for 2 years. In addition, he served as State Vice President of the Connecticut Jaycees covering Eastern Connecticut, was awarded a position as a Jaycee International State Senator, as well as the John Wentworth Good Sport “Golden Key Award” by the Connecticut Sports Writer’s Alliance for “unselfish dedication to community sports”. He was awarded a place on the RHS Wall of Fame in 2001 and RHS Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. Don established the Berger Family Scholarship at RHS for graduating seniors pursuing a degree in education or recreation. His proudest accomplishment of all was his 9 children and their families, Patricia (Thomas) Hurley, Gregory (Jeanette) Berger, Beverly (Steven) Bixler, Dohn (Mary) Berger, Brian (BJ) Berger, Timothy (Cindy) Berger, Robert (Linda) Berger, Barbara (Steven) Rizner, and Maureen (Kevin) Miles, 21 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. In addition, he leaves behind several nieces and nephews and many dear friends. He was predeceased by his brother, Robert Berger, sister Marylin Green and special friend Ruth Steppe. Relatives and friends are welcome to join the family from 4 to 7 PM on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 at the Burke-Fortin Funeral Home, 76 Prospect St. Rockville. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, July 8, 2021 at St. Bernard's Church, 25 St. Bernard Terrace, Rockville. Burial will follow at St. Bernard's Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Vernon Historical Society PO Box 2055, Vernon, CT 06066. For online condolences please visit: www.pietrasfuneralhome.com
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