JAMES DOUGLAS (JIM) BERGER was born on a frigid January day in 1937 at the Idaho Falls, Idaho hospital, the first child of Ella Woolstenhulme Berger and William James Berger. He grew up on his parent’s ranch west of Victor, Idaho at the southern end of rugged Teton Valley in the shadow of the Teton Range.
As soon as he could walk, he helped on the ranch milking cows (not his favorite job), raising vegetables, and helping his dad make and deliver dairy products. Even at a young age, his sharp, practical mind developed new and more efficient ways to carry out farm tasks. During spud vacation every fall, he picked potatoes to buy school clothes and hunting gear.
Jim was an excellent student in school, a fast runner, and a good basketball player. He played the alto saxophone in the high school’s Swing Kings Band for dances in the local area and Jackson, Wyoming. Beginning at age 14, he worked summers in West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole.
While young Jim loved to fish and hunt, especially with his dad, he also loved exploring alone, wandering the hills and forests surrounding Teton Valley with an Army canteen and a sandwich tied to his belt.
Jim and his father worked on the concrete crew building Palisades Dam in Swan Valley, Idaho. He completed a two-year course in automotive technology at Utah State University. Jim Married Marcia Floyd of Driggs, Idaho in 1958. They made their first home in Teton Valley and lived and worked temporarily in Granger, Idaho before settling in Idaho Falls, where Jim worked at Vic’s 66 Service Station for a time, then began life-long employment at Idaho National Laboratory and with General Electric at Hanford. He continued his education in engineering and attained the level of expertise necessary to work and contribute to the demanding nuclear energy field, working to develop a safe way to package and transport radioactive materials. Mitch was born a year after Bret.
While living in Idaho Falls, Jim began years of service for the LDS church at the ward and stake level. He was very active in professional societies in the nuclear industry and traveled to consult and present papers, often internationally. After retirement from his work at the Handford, Washington site, he was a professional consultant in the nuclear energy industry for several years. Jim and Marcia’s Last child Kevin was born in 1968.
Jim was a careful and loving caregiver for his wife, Marcia, as she fought a life-long battle with diabetes. After their oldest two boys graduated from high school, Jim and Marcia moved to Richland, Washington, where Jim spent the rest of his career as an engineering manager. His wife, Marcia, succumbed to the ravages of diabetes in 2002. Jim retired not long after.
In 20023, Jim met Blythe Southern, a schoolteacher and mother of five, who was also alone and living in Boise, Idaho. They began a long-distance friendship and were married in 2004. Together, They Built a summer home near Ashton, Idaho next to Jim’s brother, Gene.
Jim was busy in retirement as a fisherman, gardener, woodworker, photographer, car repairer, avid reader, and author. He especially loved his roses and trips to the Palouse and to the Oregon Coast, always having his camera ready to capture those favorite places and sights.
Jim died Aug 4, 2023, In Kennewick, Washington after a short illness. He was 86. Jim is survived by wife Blythe; children Bret Berger (Robin), Mitch Berger (Brenda), Kevin Berger (Shannon), stepson, Blake Rigby (Michelle); siblings Gene Berger, Marsha Taylor, Phil Berger (Melanie), Dessa Wade (Rex) and Shane Berger (Jean) and his wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews: stepchildren Melecia Jefferies (Rhett), Steven Moore (Jenny), Glen Moore (Kendi), Joel Moore (Erin). He was predeceased by his wife, Marcia, his parents, Stepson Paul Moore (Joni), and many wonderful extended family members and close friends.