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.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mrs Bergus was one of the most beautiful persons I have ever met. I am an African American marine who was stationed in Ankara, Turkey. She opened her home and her heart to me. I loved her for that and will always be grateful.