Kirk Berger was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer on August 20th, 2020 just as the LNU fire began to take a toll on St. Helena. He died of complications of the disease on Sunday, October 18th as the Glass fire was coming to an end. Born in Lewiston, Idaho in July of 1945, Kirk spent his childhood and youth growing up in Lewiston/Clarkston, Walla Walla, WA and Eugene, OR. He remained in the Pacific Northwest for college where he received a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism from University of Oregon. He was a fervent DUCK fan but never forgave Nike for introducing "those ridiculously embarrassing new uniforms." He also completed coursework for a second Master's degree in public policy before embarking on a 45 year career in local government and education in Oregon and California.
Kirk served as Executive Director of the Local Government Personnel Institute in Salem, Oregon where he was recognized for outstanding work by the governor. He was Director of Human Resources for the City of Portland, OR, then Dean of Human Resources and Athletic Director for Napa Valley College. After retirement he became a consultant with the California School Boards Association. Kirk also served on the Board of the St. Helena School District and operated a consulting practice in Portland and St. Helena for many years.
Kirk was a fair-minded supporter of achievement and character over entitlement and wealth. He lavished attention on Yahtzee, Bandit, Quizzy, Mr. Bojangles and Picholine -- the endlessly entertaining parade of felines that punctuated his marriage of 39 years. He believed in openness, social justice, innovation and respect for nature. He was a private person who quietly advocated for women in the work place, women's athletics, curricular freedom for creative teachers and fair hiring practices.
Kirk is survived by his wife, Tricia Westbrook, of St. Helena, a sister and a daughter. He asked that no services be held. Instead, he asked that the last line in his obituary be used to ask us all to vote and to take a little time to figure out what we, personally, can do to help restore civility to our national dialogue and to strengthen the health of our democracy.
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