Selma Louise Berge
August 7th, 1921 - June 27th, 2015

Slide Show of Pictures of Selma throughout her life


Selma Louise (Neuman) Berge, wife, mother, teacher, church and community volunteer was born a North Dakota Depression-era farm girl. In all endeavors, she was proud, strong, loyal, persistent, frugal, and brave – she had to be. She was born September 7, 1921, the fourth of ten children to parents who immigrated through Ellis Island to escape war in their homelands. Her mother Magdalena (Klein) Neuman came with her family when she was 12.

Her love of education came early. When she was old enough to attend school, she learned English and took it upon herself to teach it to her entire German-speaking family. She was the first in her family to attend college, even though at the time is was seen as a waste to send a German farm girl to collage. She worked her way through as a nanny, cook, and butcher-apron laundress. Her teaching career started in a simple one-room schoolhouse where, in addition to her teaching duties, she was also in charge of the wood-burning heater and making lunches for the students. While she ended her formal teaching career in the Hillsboro School District, she never stopped teaching – after all she had nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to encourage. She would be most proud to tell you all four of her children and all nine of her grandchildren graduated from college. And this fall, her eldest great-grandchild is off to college. 

Her 65-year marriage to George Berge commenced swiftly upon his arrival home from World War II. The wait had been long. Before they were born, their mothers would visit on adjoining acreages in North Dakota as they tended their cows. Of course in those days, it was rather unheard of for a Norwegian to marry a German. Eleven months after their wedding, their first daughter was born. George soon took advantage of an opportunity to head west working for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was a harrowing trip over the narrow, winding roads of the early Rockies' road system, in the winter as they traveled with a six-month-old and pulling a trailer home through snow and ice. They made it and called Oregon their Forever Home. After several moves and a second daughter, they settled in Brownsville, Oregon. There they lived in a company house, a converted boxcar, surrounded by a white picket fence, abundant flowers, and a marvelous vegetable garden. They lived there until the birth of their third daughter, finally relocating to Hillsboro in 1959 where they purchased their dream home that they lived in for 50 years. They built a self-sufficient lifestyle cultivating a prolific vegetable garden to sustain their growing family. There their fourth and final child, a boy, was born. 

Selma was well known for her volunteer work: advocating for substitute teacher rights, serving as a deacon at the Old Scotch Church, bagging and delivering for the Oregon Food Bank's Brown Bag Program, staffing the charitable Cedar Chest resale shop, and playing Mrs. Claus next to George's Santa most Christmases. 

She had a love for sports, gardening, and baking. At 93, she won a gold medal at her senior living facility as The Springs’ Fastest Walker. And she was, always exercising her body and mind. Selma enjoyed cards and was a big Blazers fan. She worked magic with flour making Indian Fry Bread, Snickerdoodles, pies, and the most delicious cinnamon/caramel rolls until she discovered that as a Celiac, she had a gluten intolerance. Her skills came in handy making her own gluten-free treats long before it was available in stores.

Selma remained active right up until she was nearly 94: a pillar of strength and an avid reader. She enjoyed discussing current events and quizzing kids on math facts. She had a strong, admiring and devoted support system of family and friends. She is survived by her four children: Marilyn Robinson, Karen Scoones, Candyce Thompson, and Timothy Berge. She is also survived by four siblings: Natalie (Neuman) Paulson, Anna Marie (Neuman) Boeck, William Neuman, and Clifford Neuman.