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Ruth Berger

Cedar Rapids

Ruth Wulfsberg Berger,
94, of Cedar Rapids, died Sept. 11, 2018, a The Meth-Wick Community in Cedar Rapids. Memorial service: 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. The Rev. Steven Knudson will officiate. Visitation will be held from
4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at Cedar Memorial Chapel Stateroom. Inurnment: Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.
Ruth was born May 4, 1924, the daughter of Einar and Karen (Thorsen) Wulfsberg, in Fergus Falls, Minn. As a child, the family lived in Decorah and Burr Oak, Iowa, before moving to St. Paul, Minn., after her father's death in 1934. She graduated from Washington High School in St. Paul in 1941 as valedictorian, and then attended Hamline University. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ruth took a job for the Northern Pacific Railway in downtown St. Paul while continuing comptometer school at night. Ruth worked for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing and then as an aircraft inspector for the Army Air Corps.
Ruth joined the Navy WAVES and went to Hunter College in New York City for basic training in 1945 and then to Chicago, where she worked at a training school for Navy officers. When the war ended, Ruth was discharged in May 1946. She attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She met Waldo Berger at a First Lutheran Church Christmas caroling party and they were married on Aug. 23, 1947, at First Lutheran Church.
Ruth and her husband Waldo owned and operated Berger Construction Co., which received several national awards and featured two homes that were on the cover of Life Magazine and House and Home. In 1970, Ruth graduated from the University of Iowa and began her 20-year teaching career in the Marion Independent School District, teaching second grade at both Irving and Emerson schools. In 2011, Ruth and Waldo, having both served during World War II, were escorted by their son, John, on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. Ruth was very active in First Lutheran Church, taking roles as Sunday school teacher, church council member, and was a longtime member of the adult choir. Ruth's family was of primary importance in her life. She and Waldo traveled the country to spend time with their children and grandchildren, their siblings, and their nieces and nephews. So proud of her Norwegian heritage and a longtime Sons of Norway member, she and Waldo made two trips to Norway, one with the choir from First Lutheran and another to visit relatives. Their door was always open and visitors were always welcome. Strangers became friends and friends became family.
Survivors include her four children, Karen Claffey of South Milwaukee, Wis., Sue Oltrogge of St. Louis Park, Minn., John (Amy) Berger of Lakewood, Calif., and Bill (Lori) Berger of Coralville; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; her brothers, Einar, Rolf, Karl, Paul (Tony) and Arthur (Hap); and son-in-law, Michael Claffey.
Memorials may be directed to First Lutheran Church Music Program or the Sons of Norway in memory of Ruth.
The family would like to thank the staff of The Meth-Wick Community and the staff of UnityPoint Health Hospice for their compassionate and dedicated care of their mother in her final years.
Online condolences may be directed to the family at www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.