Ernest Berger, a Republican who represented Dranesville District for one term on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in the early 1990s, died Sept. 25 at his home in Seabrook Island, S.C. He was 88.
Berger was dedicated to Dranesville District residents and served with distinction and honor, said one of his then-colleagues, former Supervisor Robert Dix (R-Hunter Mill).
Berger “was a champion for limited government and leveraging the power and innovation of the private sector,” Dix said. “He had a unique sense of humor and was a thoughtful colleague as the Board confronted and navigated through one of the most significant times of financial challenge in the history of Fairfax County.”
Berger’s death came three days after his fellow single-term predecessor, Lilla Richards, died Sept. 22 at age 81.
Ernest Joseph Berger was born March 19, 1932, in Charleston, W.Va., to parents Robert and Flora Berger. He was raised in Clarksburg, W.Va., where he attended St. Mary’s School for 12 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from West Virginia University in 1954.
Following his college graduation, he received a commission in the U.S. Army infantry and during the Korean War served at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Jackson, S.C.
After his Army service, Berger worked for C&P Telephone Co. of West Virginia, part of AT&T and the nationwide Bell System. He did stints in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., then was transferred to AT&T national headquarters in New York City.
The company subsequently transferred him back to Washington, D.C., so he and his family lived in McLean.
After 37 years with the telephone company, he worked with the Executive Master’s in Business Administration program at George Mason University and helped raise money for the school.
Berger was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1991, swept into office in a pro-growth wave that swept out Richards, board chairman Audrey Moore and venerable Vienna-based supervisor Martha V. Pennino. Four years later, he opted not to seek re-election, and the seat was picked up by Democrat Stuart Mendelsohn.
Berger held a top-secret clearance and worked within the Pentagon for many years, his family said. He was an avid gardener, world traveler and a devout Catholic who made many trips around the world to visit holy sites.
“He was a wonderful guy, very social, busy and active in the community,” said Gregory Berger, one of his sons. “He just lived life to the fullest.”
Berger led the fund-raising project for the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in South Carolina, where he was buried Oct. 2. Online condolences may be offered at www.CharlestonFunerals.com.
He is survived by a daughter, Courtney Powell, of Salem, Va.; sons Gregory Berger of London, England, Christopher Berger of Farmington, Minn., and Joseph Berger of Waterbury, Conn.; and seven grandchildren: Austin and Trevor Rakes; Cecelia, Preston and Seth Berger; and Kendall and Kaydin Ruiz.
Donations can be made to Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 3871 Betsy Kerrison Blvd., Johns Island, S.C. 29455.
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