American Patriotic 11

Don Berger

November 17, 1935 ~ November 19, 2022 (age 87) 87 Years Old


Donald D. “Don” Berger, 87, longtime Kittitas Valley resident, passed away on November 19, 2022 at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle with his daughter Becky at his side. He had a stroke and thought he was on the road to recovery when he suffered brain bleeds that he just couldn’t beat. A memorial service will be conducted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, 2023 at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home in Ellensburg with a reception to follow at Heritage Hall at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds (under the grandstands).

Don was born on November 17, 1935 in South Bend, Indiana to Edith (Bloom) and Art Berger.  At an early age, the family moved to Washington state and settled in the Teanaway/Thorp area.  Don attended Thorp schools, graduating from Thorp High School.  

After high school, Don went to work for Ellensburg Cement Products and also enlisted in the United States Navy Reserves, intending to serve an eight-year tour of reserve duty.  However, in 1960, there was a bad poker game between unit commanders and Don and a few other men were traded as part of the game from one branch of service to another.  This moved Don from reserve duty in the Navy to active duty in the Army.

This trade, and the potential for extended service for Don, did not sit well with his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Whitmore, whom he had married on July 26, 1958 with the promise that his military service would end in 1961.  Betty went to work writing letters to Congresswoman Catherine May and, through her efforts, the military honored Don’s original enlistment term.  He received his honorable discharge from the Army, right on schedule, in April of 1961.

Upon his return from the service, Don went back to work for ECP before being hired on in the early 1970’s with Snititly Brothers Construction.  He enjoyed his time with that company working on several bridge projects all over eastern Washington.  After a brief stint with Peter Kiewit Construction, Don found his true calling as a cattleman, helping work the herd for Orion Busby’s cattle operation.  After Orion passed away, there were no more cattle to tend to so Don “retired”, a loose term because it didn’t last long.

In “retirement”, Don and Betty worked a paper route for a while, “retired” again, and then once again started delivering papers.  They enjoyed their time together on their route for many years, which ended in 2020, sadly, due to Betty taking a fall and with increased complications from her dementia. This also resulted in Betty needing specialized care in Yakima, which was hard on Don – they had been together, side by side, for 62 years and he struggled with her not being able to come home. 

Don was a bit of a social butterfly and he enjoyed his time meeting others for coffee at the Hiway Grill and, later, the Copper Kettle.  He also served as a volunteer for the Kittitas Volunteer Fire Department and Kittitas County Fire District #2 from 1985 through his retirement from both departments in 2004/05.

Ultimately, Don had quite a bit to be proud of at the time he passed away - he made it to just past 87 years old, he enjoyed 64 years of marriage to the love of his life, was blessed with a beautiful daughter, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren and shared many laughs over the years with his friends.

He was preceded in death by his mother Edith, his father Art, as well as his older brother LeRoy.

Don is survived by his wife, Betty; daughter Becky and her husband Val; grandchildren Robert, Patty (Aaron), and Kari (Bruce); great-grandchildren Derrick (Missy), Wyatt, Abby, Raylee, Aeden, Megan and Blake; sisters Lorraine Spurling, Bev Winters, Sue Berger, Patty Berger and Donna (Pat) Smith; brothers Paul (Sheila) Berger, Oscar (Bev) Berger and Cliff Berger, as well as many nieces, nephews and dear friends.

The family wishes to give special thanks to the staff at Virginia Mason for all of their wonderful care.  Also, special recognition should be paid to Don’s nephew, Joe, for sitting with Becky for the many days he was in the hospital, talking logic and helping her through a very difficult time. 

Memorial contributions in Don’s honor are suggested to the Virginia Mason Foundation, 1100 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101.

Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Mr. Berger and his family.  Online condolences may be left at


Memorial Service
April 8, 2023

2:00 PM
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory
301 E. 3rd Ave.
Ellensburg, WA 98926


© 2023 Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility