Donald Bergen, 78
Donald Thomas Bergen, 78, born June 16, 1930, in Albert Lea, died in Hyattsville, Md., on March 28, 2009.
Services in Albert Lea will be held July 11, 2009, at St. Theodore Catholic Church, with a reception at 9 a.m. and a mass at 10 a.m.
Tom Bergen was the oldest of the four children of Dr. Francis J. Bergen and Grace Donovan Bergen. He attended Albert Lea High School, where he was editor of the school newspaper. Accepted at Harvard College in 1948, he majored in political science and made the dean’s list in his junior year. At Harvard he enrolled in the U.S. Air Force ROTC and was commissioned on graduation in June 1952.
He subsequently attended Harvard Business School graduating with a MBA in June 1954. He was then called to active duty in the Air Force and assigned to Headquarters Air Material Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. There he worked on supporting the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line of radar stations in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic that were designed to provide the first warning of a Soviet attack. He also worked on the “Grand Union” project, a balloon-borne ariel survey of the Soviet Union, which deployed balloons over Russia carrying camera equipment that were launched from Turkey. He received the USAF Commendation Medal and was promoted to 1st lieutenant.
Reentering civilian life in 1956 he joined Federal Electric Company, an arm of ITT, and was hired as regional manager for transportation for the DEW line and became responsible for directing the dozens of aircraft that supplied personnel, mail, food and supplies to the radar stations in the Arctic along the DEW line.
In 1958, he joined Honeywell, Inc.’s aeronautical division, which made aircraft controls such as for the F-104 interceptor jet. He was assigned to Frankfurt, Germany to work on the F-104 program there.
In 1961 he married Sarah Elizabeth Lampert of Minneapolis, a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the University of Minnesota.
He subsequently worked for Honeywell’s International Division where he was assigned to India for six months in 1963 and then to Paris in 1966 for two years.
In 1968 Bergen and his family moved to London where he worked for American Hoist and Derrick Company until 1971. He later set up Bergen-Billings, Inc. a management consultancy.
He moved to Manhattan in 1978, where he lived until 1995.
He had a lifelong interest in railways and when he moved to Maine in 1995 he volunteered at the Sea Shore Trolley Museum, the oldest and largest electric railway museum in the world. He also had a lifelong passion for German Expressionist art. His collection toured American museums in the late 1970s. Catalogs of his collection include, Ludwig Meidner, an Expressionist Master: Drawings and Prints from the D. Thomas Bergen Collection: Paintings from Marvin and Janet Fishman Collection (University of Michigan Museum of Art. 1978) and German Expressionist Drawings from the collection of D.T. Bergen (University of Notre Dame 1976). During the mid-1970s he co-published Studio International, an art journal.
He had a long attachment to Harvard, where he liked to visit, in particular, the Busch-Reiseinger Museum. And he could be frequently found in the bar of the Harvard Club of New York City when he lived in Manhattan.
In the summer of 2001 he moved to Washington, D.C. where he lived in his son’s house in Dupont Circle before moving to the Sacred Heart Nursing Home in Hyattsville, Md., in 2008 where he died surrounded by members of his family and others who loved him.
He always remained attached to his hometown of Albert Lea and was keen to receive news of the place and his old friends there such as the Jones family. He subscribed to the Albert Lea Tribune until he died.
He is survived by his son, Peter Bergen of Washington; two daughters: Katherine Bergen of London and Margaret Bergen of Washington; three grandchildren: Charlotte, Isabel and Brendan McCann; his former wife, Sarah Lampert Bergen, of Washington; his brother, William (Bill) Bergen of Tucson, Ariz.; and sister, Mary Theisen of Lake Bluff, Ill.
His brother, Daniel Bergen of Hamilton, N.Y., predeceased him.