Retired staff member Barbara Berger, who served the Office of Graduate Studies in the late ’80s and early ’90s, passed away November 1. She was 84.

Born July 31, 1935 in Berlin, Germany, she moved around a lot in her younger years while her father was stationed with the US Medical Service. She studied fine arts at the University of Kansas and then attended Missouri State University in Springfield before deciding in 1958 she wanted to move west. She ended up in Santa Monica and worked with an open-heart surgery team at St. John’s Hospital until she and her husband, Ed, had their first child.

Upon her husband’s retirement in 1972, they wanted a more rural lifestyle to raise their family and moved to Durham, where they bought a house and 15 acres of almonds.  

Berger volunteered for a few years at Durham Elementary School and eventually became a full-time teacher’s aide in a fourth-grade classroom. In 1988, she was hired at Chico State to work in the dean’s office for the Office of Graduate Studies, where she spent the rest of her career before retiring.

Portrait of Barbara Berger
Courtesy of Berger family

Donna Gauthier worked next to Berger in Kendall Hall for many years and remembers they had some of the first Apple computers on campus, learning how to use them together. Humble and with a good sense of humor, Berger was friendly to everyone she encountered, whether students or employees. 

“She was always so much fun to work next to,” Gauthier said. “I will miss her smile.”

Berger enjoyed being in close proximity to her children through all their years of schooling—all four children and three of their spouses graduated from Chico State—as well as volunteering for various clubs in Durham. She served as the Durham Parents, Teachers, and Students president, kicked off the Durham community newsletter, served as president of the Durham Sports Boosters Club, was a member of the Durham Women’s Club and local American Legion Auxiliary, volunteered at Patrick Ranch, and was a recent board member of the Durham Parks and Recreation Department, as well as lending her artistic talents for many years to help groups and individuals with posters and other designs. In 2007, she was named the Durham Woman of the Year.

Berger remarried to Don Clark in 1994, and they enjoyed many happy years together. In addition to her passion for community volunteer work, she also discovered a passion for karaoke in retirement, which stemmed from a lifelong love of song. 

She is survived by her children Robert, William, Kathryn, and David, as well as 13 grandchildren. The family requests any donations in her name be to the Coral Apple Foundation, which is providing assistance to Camp Fire survivors.

We will share service details when we learn of them. The University flag will be lowered Thursday, December 19, in her honor.