Friday, December 21, 2007

Elizabeth Bergus Memorial - Saturday 12/29 2:00-5:00PM

A special event is being planned to honor the memory of Elizabeth Bergus, and the special place that she holds in Strathmere's history and heart.

The Bergus Family invites all of Elizabeth's friends to attend the event and to share their memories of her. It will take place on Saturday December 29th, from 2:00 to 5:00PM, at the Strathmere Fire House.

The Remembrance will start at 2:00 with a parade.
At 3:00 The Bergus Family will speak and then they will invite anyone who would like to share a story about Elizabeth to come forward and speak.

Fingerfood, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available during the event.

Donations can be made in Elizabeth's name to the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Co. -

Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company
Post Office Box 71
Strathmere NJ 08248


Elizabeth Bergus
BERGUS ELIZABETH (neeRavdin), 80, who gave thirty years of public service as an American diplomat's wife living in Middle East crisis zones, and then held a second, 30-year career in local civic activism, died Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey.
Mrs. Bergus, a resident of Strathmere, New Jersey, was born in 1927 in Philadelphia, the daughter of two physicians, Elizabeth and I.S. Ravdin. She attended Friends Central School, Sarah Lawrence College, and the School of Nursing of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1950, she met and married Donald C. Bergus, a Foreign Service officer and Middle East expert. The couple began their married life in Beirut, Lebanon, eventually serving in Paris, France; Washington, DC; Cairo, Egypt; Ankara, Turkey; and Khartoum, Sudan. Despite the era's limits on a woman's role, particularly in the foreign service for decades, a diplomat's wife was not permitted to hold an outside job Elizabeth Bergus carved out a role as her husband's closest political confidant and a bridge to local civic leaders, especially women's groups. As her husband rose through the ranks to become Charge D'Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission, and then Ambassador, Mrs. Bergus' diplomatic duties increased, organizing and presiding over a yearly schedule of more than 500 official receptions, diplomatic dinners, committee meetings, and more. She was known for her concern for the welfare of Embassy staff, especially the young Marine Security Guards, serving far from home. Her organizational skills carried her family including daughters Elizabeth and Priscilla, and son George through 12 major household relocations.
Upon her husband's retirement in 1980, the couple returned to Mrs. Bergus' summer childhood home in Strathmere, where her father had first purchased their distinctive house in 1915. With her husband's support, Elizabeth Bergus continued her active public service. As President of the Strathmere Improvement Association, she led a vigorous, [three]-year campaign to get state and township authorities to replace the town's bankrupt water company and ensure healthy water for Strathmere's residents. In 1986, she and her husband also played lead roles in replacing Strathmere's old Firehouse with a modernized building that could also serve as a disaster-response shelter and community meeting place.
As a member of the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company, Mrs. Bergus responded to emergency call-outs 24 hours a day, and served as its long-time Secretary, keeping its records, maintaining ties with local and absent homeowners, and filing the constantly required government reports. She was elected a Strathmere Fire District Commissioner and served as Clerk of the Fire Commission. Every July Fourth, she could be found in the Firehouse radio room, serving as the central point for the town's famous all-volunteer, non-commercial parade.
Elizabeth Bergus was also determined to make sure that her small island town had adequate ambulance service to mainland hospitals. In her 60s, she became a certified Emergency Medical Technician, later becoming one of the first EMTs in New Jersey to be qualified to administer cardiac defibrilation. Joining the Volunteer Ambulance Corps in the nearby city of Sea Isle, NJ and later named its President she was among the top responders to emergency calls not only in Strathmere but all across the island.
Mrs. Bergus was also an active citizen advocate, especially for Strathmere, in local township affairs. She was such a regular presence at Upper Township meetings that one week, when she was absent visiting family, the township minutes included the line: "Missed Mrs. Bergus." She was a member of the Zoning Board, and also served as Deputy Emergency Manager for Upper Township with responsibility for Strathmere, monitoring storm and other disaster threats and helping to organize evacuations from this vulnerable coastline area.
Despite her active public service and interests, Mrs. Bergus was, first and foremost, devoted to her family. Her home was a center for her children and grandchildren, and over the years, she opened her heart and doors to nieces and nephews as well. Her husband Donald died in 1998. She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Grace Bergus of Pitman, New Jersey; son George Ravdin Bergus (Rebecca), of Iowa City, Iowa; daughter Priscilla Bergus Laurence (Andrew) of London, United Kingdom; grandchildren Alexander Bergus Conner; Nicholas (Laura) and Samuel Bergus; and Elizabeth and Katherine Laurence; and great-granddaughter Evelyn Bergus.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her honor may be sent to the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company to be used for medical equipment. An informal remembrance gathering will be held on Saturday, December 29th at the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company in Strathmere, NJ. All are invited from 2-5 to share memories.

View/Sign Memorial Guestbook

Strathmere mourns the loss of Elizabeth Bergus


From The Press of Atlantic City -

Strathmere 'mayor' dies at 80
Elizabeth Bergus remembered fondly for activism, philanthropy
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712 (Published: December 21, 2007)

UPPER TOWNSHIP - Elizabeth Bergus was the wife of a diplomat who raised a family in the Middle East and Europe through war, famine and peace.
In retirement - if you could call it that - she settled in Upper Township's barrier island, Strathmere, where she still volunteered with the local fire company and rescue squad.
Bergus died Tuesday. She was 80.
"I hope people in Strathmere understand what they've lost," Deputy Mayor Curtis Corson Jr. said. "She spent her whole life putting other people first."
Bergus grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from nursing school. She and her late husband, Donald, raised three children. As ambassador he served in some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Lebanon and Sudan. Where he went, she and her children followed, even when it took the family into international hot spots, such as Egypt after the Six Day War in 1967.
She and her family spent many years there.
"My father served in Cairo for two stints. Cairo was her love, really, of all the postings she had," her daughter Priscilla said. "She fell in love with the Middle East and the people of the Middle East."
After retirement, the couple moved full time to her father's historic home in Strathmere. They joined the local fire company and rescue squad. Bergus was an active member of both.
Residents who attended Upper Township Committee meetings knew better than to sit in the second pew aisle seat. That spot was reserved for Bergus, near enough to the elected officials so she could pipe up with a quip or a gentle reproach if they omitted something she thought was important.
She warned neighbors about imminent coastal storms and reported any property damage directly to township employees. Bergus was the mayor of this barrier island in everything but title.
"Everyone in this community contributes and wears at least six different hats," Bergus said in a 1996 interview. "Strathmere is a self-help community. The people band together and help each other always."
"She had this front. You thought, 'Boy, she's tough,'" Sea Isle Ambulance Corps Chief Dan Fay recalled. "Over the years she had to be when she was in the Middle East during all those years."
Bergus taught first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to most squad members, Fay said. She never hesitated in an emergency.
"If there was a call to Strathmere, you'd hear, '904 responding.' That was her call number. She would always be there," Fay said.
Bergus was a member this year of the township's Zoning Board. Though she occasionally took township officials to task, none dared patronize her with an insincere platitude.
"She was quick to praise you and quick to tell you when you messed up," Corson said. "You always knew where you stood with her."
The committee passed a resolution celebrating her 80th birthday in April.
"She was probably the most straight-shooting, fair and reasonable person," Mayor Richard Palombo said. "She always did the right thing. That's what I admire most about her."
Township Clerk Wanda Gaglione said Bergus was a generous philanthropist in town, helping local families in need. Some children will have a brighter Christmas next week because of her generosity.
"She kept the pulse," Township Committeewoman Barbara Camp said. "She kept us advised about what the public sentiments were. She was a fine lady. She's going to be missed."
The Township Committee will honor Bergus at its Jan. 4 meeting, Palombo said. Godfrey Funeral Home is handling memorial services, which have not yet been scheduled.

To e-mail Michael Miller at The Press:


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Strathmere Documentary DVD Now Available for Purchase!

'STRATHMERE sound & light' a special film presentation for the people of Strathmere

This 26 minute DVD of Strathmere is now available to all for purchase.

Thanks to producers/directors Fran McElroy and Ann Tegnell for creating such a wonderful and accurate portrait of life in our little town. They donated the rights to sell a limited edition of this film specifically as a fundraiser for the Strathmere Fire Company.
They have also been working on a different version of a Strathmere documentary for broadcast television, and would welcome additional input and support from our community for this ongoing project. In particular, they are still looking for home movies that show Strathmere life from times past.

All proceeds of 'STRATHMERE sound & light' will benefit the Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company.
DVD copies of the film will be priced at $20.00 each.
All mailing will be a flat $5.00 shipping fee - no matter how many DVDs you buy.

Please let others know about the opportunity to purchase one or, better yet six copies of this little gem.

Please make payment payable to the 'Strathmere Volunteer Fire Company' and mail to:
Ella Diamond
P.O.B. # 66
Strathmere, NJ 08248

For more info contact Ella at: or at 215.715.7702

You will also be able to buy copies of the DVD at Riordan Realty and at the Strathmere Post Office after 12/17

Below is a short clip from Strathmere sound & light -