Evelyn Mary Benson Berger
Evelyn Mary Benson Berger
Evelyn Mary Benson Berger passed away peacefully at her home in Sonoma, with her husband by her side, on March 17, 2011. Evelyn was a 51-year resident of Sonoma, leaving her mark of grace, love and generosity on the people whose lives she touched in the community.
Evelyn was born June 1, 1932, in San Francisco to Evelyn and John E. Benson. She grew up in San Francisco, attending Sunnyside Grammar School, Aptos and Lincoln High Schools before graduating from San Francisco State College in 1954. She then started her teaching career at the Millbrae Elementary School.
She married her husband, John Berger, in 1959. They moved to Sonoma where she taught at El Verano Elementary School for more than two years before embracing motherhood with four sons. Some of her fondest memories were backpacking and camping in the Sierras with her family.
Throughout her life, Evelyn devoted herself to helping others, particularly those less fortunate. While a parent at Prestwood Elementary School in the late ’60s and early ’70s, she helped established and volunteered at the school library. She also helped start a monthly party for seniors in Sonoma which would bring shut-ins from rest homes to a home cooked meal with entertainment at the St. Francis Church hall. In 1984 she join the FISH organization (Friends In Sonoma Helping) providing those less fortunate in the Sonoma Valley with food, clothing and transportation.
In addition to her focus on helping locally, in the 1970s she helped found the Friends of Turkana, to help support a small clinic in the Turkana Desert and eventually hospital. Throughout the years she has found time to organize grass-roots support for both local and national environmental issues and political candidates.
In 1986, she continued to educate the youth of Sonoma Valley, by exposing many children to the wonders of nature as a docent at the Bouverie Audobon Preserve. She led countless schoolchildren on hikes, pointing out the natural wonders. She helped found the Quercus Choir, which performs nature songs to schoolchildren.
For her contributions to Sonoma, Evelyn was selected as an Alcaldesa in 1984 and in 1985 KRON-TV chose her for the “Those Who Care” award for her humanitarian work.
She was the most amazing mother, mother-in-law and grandmother to her sons, John and Allison, Chris and Rhonda, Mike and Rosie, and Robert and Courtney, and her 10 grandchildren, Camille, Josh, Steven, Austin, Jerry, Christopher, Jacob, Camryn, Isabella and Grace. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Justice John E. Benson.
Evelyn’s warm smile and contagious laugh will be missed by all who were lucky to know her.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those wishing to remember Evelyn make a contribution to Friends of Turkana, P.O. Box 135, Sinoma, CA 95476 or Hospice By The Bay, 190 W. Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476.
A celebration of will be held at 12 p.m. on Friday, March 25, 2011, at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, 601 W. Agua Caliente Road, Sonoma, CA.
Duggan’s Mission Chapel in charge of arrangements.