First published in the Nov. 12 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
Ruth Berger passed away peacefully at home in Pasadena on November 3. She celebrated her 105th birthday with family and friends in August (see picture above). Born in San Francisco, Ruth grew up in Santa Rosa, Calif., the third child of Hope Knapp Wasserman and Milton Wasserman.
Ruth lived a happy life with lots of friends and adoring parents. In her teens, she enjoyed dancing to big band sounds in the summers at Rio Nido on the Russian River. The family also loved to spend part of their summers in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. Ruth graduated from Santa Rosa High School and attended Santa Rosa Junior College.
Ruth met Jack Berger and they were married in June 1938. She worked with Jack in his fur manufacturing business and the couple enjoyed golfing, playing bridge, cooking and baking, and socializing with friends. Ruth and Jack loved traveling, especially cruising, and they visited many countries over the years. They had one child, Jay, born in 1944.
The Bergers moved to Pasadena in 1979 to be near Jay, their daughter-in-law, Meta, and their grandchildren. Ruth was an active volunteer at Huntington Hospital, and she loved caring for and spending time with her two grandchildren and eventually her four great-grandchildren.
She oversaw great-grandchildren’s homework and loved to play card games with them and with her grandson John. She was frequently seen working in Meta’s children’s clothing warehouse. She also enjoyed cooking and baking at holiday time with granddaughter Karin and later with her great-granddaughters. Ruth was also a voracious reader until her late 90s.
She loved spending time on Balboa Island, especially sitting on the beach with her feet in the sand, which she did three weeks before passing. Ruth was an avid USC football and basketball fan and she rarely missed watching Dodgers baseball games and professional golf on television. She lived with Jay and Meta for the past year and the three, often joined by other family members, enjoyed their nightly gin and tonics.
Ruth was always positive, optimistic, friendly, nurturing, helpful and supportive. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was predeceased by Jack, her husband of 65 years. She is survived by her son, Jay, and his wife, Meta, her granddaughter Karin Stellar (Sean), her grandson John (Jennifer), and her loving great-granddaughters, Sofia and Emma Stellar, and Madeleine and Grace Berger.
A celebration of life will be held on November 20. Contact Jay Berger for details at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are so inclined, a donation in Ruth’s memory may be made to Five Acres, 760 W. Mountain View St., Altadena, Calif., 91001, or to your favorite charity.