Roy Berg | Passages

Roy Berg ... 1925-2010

Roy Berg, long-time resident of Lopez Island, passed away Aug. 27, 2010 in Mukilteo, Wash. He was 85.

He was laid to rest at a graveside service at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Everett, next to his second wife, Bonnie Belle, who died of cancer in 1964.  

Roy was born June 1, 1925 in Tacoma, Wash., to Marvin and Nellie Berg. He graduated from Everett High School and was drafted into the Army and served in the Pacific during World War II. His mom had insisted he take typing in school, which he disliked, but in later reflection said it probably saved his life. 

He fought in the Philippines, but was later transferred and assigned to be a personal assistant and driver for Gen. Walter Krueger. The Army desperately needed a typist (though Roy admitted he really didn’t know how to type). One of their assignments was to be the first to go into Japan and set up headquarters in Kyoto after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the Japanese surrendered. Not knowing if there was an ambush waiting, they drove toward the capital while Japanese villagers silently pointed the way along the roadside.   

His war stories are many, though he often kept them tucked away in his heart as the war was a very difficult time for him and so many others. 

Back home, Roy pursued his passion for cars. One of his cars was an old “junker,” a 1930 Model A Roadster he found in someone’s back yard. He fixed it up and raced two seasons at Skagit Speedway against the “fancy expensive cars” and “whooped them every time,” as Roy put it, never losing a race. 

He loved racing. The old backyard junker held the record for Washington, Oregon and British Columbia — 110 mph in 10 seconds. On weekends, Roy and his buddies would chop and lower the tops on their cars and race to Rose Dutcher Tavern on their way to Eastern Washington to go fishing. 

Married and soon with three children, Roy started up his own business, Berg’s Auto Body Rebuild, in Everett, pounding fenders, painting and working on cars into the wee hours of the night. His shop was always full of friends. Several years later, tired of city life, he moved his business to Lopez Island and bought a farm and built a shop.

He loved the tranquility of island life and the people, making long-lasting friendships, many a night pulling friends from the ditches (often for free) with his yellow tow truck or finding sweet deals on cars for islanders. 

He was a master at his trade. He restored Tex Gieling’s 1932 Chrysler Roadster, which you most likely will see in the Concourse d’ Elegance on Lopez Island every year. Or you may see his little 1932 yellow pickup truck which he bought in his 20s, took apart and hung on his walls for years only to be restored in the later part of his life and painted his favorite color, yellow.

Roy is survived by a son, Gary Berg of Lopez Island; daughters, Nancy Berg of Kirkland, Janet Berg of Santa Fe, N.M.; brother, Dick Berg and wife Peggy of Oregon; six grandchildren, Shawn Barstad, Stephanie Lucas, Auri Berg, Leia Berg, Steven Berg and Grace Berg; and two great-grandchildren, Alex Barstad and Nika Berg.

Roy felt blessed to have work he loved and friends to share it with. He’ll live on in the minds and hearts of those he touched. May he rest in peace. 

— Family of Roy Berg