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Carol J. Berge
December 22, 1934 ~ March 5, 2021 (age 86) 86 Years Old
Carol, a proud tenth-generation American, a Daughter of the American Revolution, and a passionate women’s rights advocate, passed away peacefully in her sleep with her family by her side, at age 86. She is now in heaven with her husband of 65 years, Lowell; her older sisters, Laurie Banton and Marilyn Bowman; her parents, Edward and Beatrice Wolfangle (nee Benjamin); and other dear members of her family. She is survived by her son, James Berge; his wife, Debra; and their two children, Paul and Rachel, whom she loved very much.
She was born and raised in La Crosse, WI, and graduated from Central High School, Class of 1952. In 1955, she married Lowell and they began their life together in Hollywood, CA, where she worked as a church secretary while her husband worked in a bookstore and attended USC. Upon his graduation, they moved to Hartford, CT, where she once again worked as a church secretary while her husband attended Hartford Theological Seminary. In 1960, they gave birth to their first and only child and moved to Creighton, NE, and a year later to Tucson, AZ, before finally settling down in San Jose, CA, in 1963.
Carol was an outstanding student. In 1967, she graduated as valedictorian from West Valley College. In 1969, she graduated magna cum laude from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in English. In 1971, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a master’s degree in English and a teaching credential. In 1977, she received her law degree with honors from the Santa Clara University School of Law.
While attending school, Carol worked as a secretary and an associate book publisher. Upon graduating from law school, she started her own family law practice. A couple of years later, she went to work for Four Phase Systems of Cupertino as a contracts specialist, and later for Ungermann-Bass, a Fortune 500 company, as a corporate attorney before becoming its first female General Counsel. In 2003, Carol joined her son in his estate planning law practice until her retirement in 2008.
Carol was honored by the Bar Association of San Francisco as a Pioneer in the Field of Law. She and her son were recognized by Santa Clara University as the first mother and then son to have graduated from its School of Law.
Carol loved to play tennis and golf. For many years, she was the captain of the ladies 9-hole golf team at the Saratoga Country Club where she spent many enjoyable hours during retirement. She even led them to a state team championship. She also loved to hike, bike and swim, read, travel, and listen to classical music. Besides her family, there was nothing that she loved more than her many cats and dogs. Carol was widely admired as a teacher and mentor. She was respected for her knowledge of the law, her fair-mindedness, and her generosity.
Carol was active in the Church throughout her life: as a minister’s wife; as a church secretary; and as an active member of the First Congregational Church of San Jose for 45 years. She was proud to call herself a Christian. Her devotion to Biblical teachings was evident in how she lived her life: don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today; don’t take anything for granted; treat others as you wish to be treated; good things don’t just happen, you have to work for them; moderation in all things; and love your neighbor.
Carol was most proud of her accomplishments as a woman and the example she set for future generations of women. She was among the first of a new generation of women to: return to school after marrying and raising a child, be admitted to Santa Clara University after it had become a coeducational institution, become a woman lawyer, and become a member of the executive suite for a Fortune 500 company. She actively supported passage of the ERA to the US Constitution. She never missed voting in an election. Her only regret was not living long enough to see a woman elected as President of the United States.
Remembrance gifts may be sent to The Humane Society of Santa Clara County, Milpitas, CA.