weather icon Clear

Devoted volunteer will be missed

The world lost a good man — and I lost a good friend — Friday when Gary Berger died from complications from COPD.

He will be missed greatly by a great many people — some of whom may never have actually met him.

His work and actions touched most aspects of life in his beloved town. He worked and volunteered at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, served on the library’s board of directors, helped establish the volunteer and Neighborhood Watch programs for the police department and provided regular updates on emergency services on social media sites.

Gary had a gruff exterior and always had a joke at hand. It was often difficult to tell when he was being serious — about anything. But he took life and helping others very seriously.

The reality is Gary was nothing more than a teddy bear in disguise. He was genuine, caring and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

He had been recognized more than once for saving people’s lives and for volunteering countless hours to the communities he called home.

Gary devoted at least 35 years of his life to working and volunteering with emergency service providers. He didn’t keep track of how many lives he helped save. To him, it was just another day, just what he did.

In 2017, after Gary was presented with the prestigious arrowhead Life Saving Award from the National Park Service for his efforts helping a swimmer in distress at Lake Mead, he said he was just in the right place and the right time. He said he wasn’t anyone special.

Others would surely disagree. Officials said without the efforts by him and other volunteers on his patrol boat, the man they saved surely would have perished along with his friend, who sunk below the water’s surface before they were able to get on scene.

He did the same kind of things in Southern California before moving to Boulder City, volunteering with the American Red Cross, teaching emergency medicine and CPR. He also managed emergency services for major events in Los Angeles.

Gary’s love for the community extended into everything he did. He served two full four-year terms on the board of directors at the Boulder City Library, as well as completing two years of Roger Tobler’s term when he became mayor in 2007.

When it came time for him to step down, he told me he would continue serving if he could.

It wasn’t always easy and the board had to make some tough decisions surrounding the controversial resignation of the former library director. But as with everything he did, Gary acted with professionalism and put the interests of the community first.

He seemed indefatigable and didn’t let anything get in the way of what he felt needed to be done. Not even his COPD.

The last time I saw him was in June when the city’s police and fire departments presented awards to outstanding officers, firefighters and volunteers. He was given a special commendation for serving as the “face” of the department’s volunteer program, to which he devoted more than 100 hours a month. He also was recognized for training and mentoring other volunteers.

Because of COVID-19, it had been a while since we were able to meet in person and I was surprised to see him carrying and using a portable oxygen machine.

As with everything else, he just took it in stride and brushed it off as no big deal, accepting the realities of being a smoker for 30 years.

At his funeral Tuesday, you could see that what he did was a big deal to his family and friends, how his actions touched so many. His legacy will live on.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
City’s past, future tied to lake

Lake Mead, the gem in Boulder City’s backyard, is losing its gleam.

Set goals for community, as a community

As a not so closeted optimist, I like to think about those things I’ve succeeded in and, because I hate the word “failed,” those things that I haven’t succeeded in during the new year. This year I worked my butt off, I read a ton of books, I wrote a lot of stories, I had one published and few opinions posted here. I went to some cool places and met some incredible people and taught a few classes of amazing people.

Shift to even-year elections produces some oddities

Our newest City Council members, Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox, took office only six months ago. So, it might seem much too early to start talking about city elections again. But this year marks a major change in Boulder City’s election cycle: a shift from odd-year elections to even-year elections. In other words, past city elections were held in odd-numbered years (for example, 2017, 2019 and 2021), but beginning this year they’ll take place in even years (2022, 2024 and so on).

Stick it to me

I’m in heaven today. That’s because it’s National Sticker Day. It’s a day that I can happily pay tribute to one of my favorite obsessions: stickers.

Reid was true friend to city

Few people know of the genius of Sen. Harry Reid. I was fortunate to get to know him from my position as mayor and council member of Boulder City. He was available to Boulder City residents and the citizens of Nevada regardless of which party they were affiliated with. I consider him to have been a friend.

Resolve to avoid resolutions

A new year. A new you. Making New Year’s resolutions to improve yourself or your life is a tradition that dates back thousands of years.

Path to move forward clear

I want to wish all the residents of Boulder City a new year that brings better times and allows us to move beyond the challenges and struggles we have had in the past year and more. We are tired and frustrated from the pandemic that has caused hardship and, for many, personal loss.

Memories made as time flies by

There are only a few hours left in 2021 and I don’t know how the others passed so quickly. It seems the older I get, the faster days fly by.

‘Twas the baking before Christmas

A few years ago, many readers commented how much they enjoyed my column about holiday baking and requested that I make this an annual tradition. Though my holiday baking has since expanded into the entire month of December so that more family and friends can enjoy the fruits of my labor, the true spirit of the message remains. I promise to stay knee-deep in flour, sugar and spices, and wish all a sweet holiday season and new year.

Diversity more systemic than racism

We live in the greatest country in the entire world. It has many inequalities and a number of negative attributes, but these are an exception, not the norm.