NRLA Remembers Jack Bergman

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jack Bergman, former president of Walla Walla University and longtime champion of religious liberty throughout the Northwest and beyond, died in late October. He is remembered in the following words from Gregory Hamilton, Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) president.

This year we mourn the loss of H.J. “Jack” Bergman. Jack was a dedicated servant of God with a stellar career in education, both in the public and Adventist academic sector, including the following:

  • Chairman of the history department at Western Oregon University and dean of its Graduate School for Arts and Humanities for 20 years;
  • President of Walla Walla University for five years;
  • Several capacities in the Adventist school system as a teacher, on conference committees and as a member of the Walla Walla University board of trustees.

Upon retirement, Jack chose to help my predecessor, Richard Fenn, recharter, constitute and pioneer the NRLA in 1991. He served as NRLA vice president and government relations representative for the state of Washington in Olympia for 11 years.

He continued to serve NRLA as an administrative advisor until his passing in October 2018. He never missed a government relations workshop or board meeting.

His mentoring of yours truly, and those who served after him in Olympia, was cherished. Jack would travel from his home in Walla Walla, Wash., and spend weeks at the state legislature in Olympia reading through stacks of bills. On many occasions, he pored over some of those bills in the midst of public hearings. He did this in the days before our NRLA representatives were introduced to Lexus-Nexus StateNet, an email and online service that provides much more efficient tracking and reading of legislative bills of interest in all five Northwest capitols in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Jack was 92 when he passed away. He leaves behind his dear wife, Evelyn, and numerous children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His ultimate legacy is that he modeled the love of Christ when mentoring students and colleagues and by seeking to help those less fortunate than himself in the communities where he lived and worked. Jack’s life is worthy of emulation. May the one and only triune God of heaven continue to bless and watch over Jack’s family.

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