City College Remembers Julia Bergman
By Diana Chuong
A tribute for City College’s own Julia Bergman, who passed last month, was held in the Smith Hall cafeteria on Feb. 25
Bergman lived by the quote, “I would like to be thoroughly used up before I die.” Ask anyone who was in her life or even knew of her and they would tell you that she had endless amounts of dedication for everything she was a part of.
In the event’s pamphlet it stated that Bergman left behind a long legacy of education, libraries (like the Rosenberg library), literacy, books, and adventure.
The cafeteria was decorated with white table clothes, beautiful calla lily centerpieces and light teal ribbons- Bergman’s favorite color.
The air was filled with warm, heartfelt emotion by everyone who attended. Many attendees were happy to be gathered together to rejoice in the memories of a person who was truly selfless and passionate in not only everything she did but everyone she helped along the way.
The amount of lives Bergman had made an impression on was shown on Saturday’s tribute when the cafeteria filled with City College faculty and staff from numerous departments.
Music Department Chair Madeline Mueller called Bergman an international icon.
“A very large part of her life was dedicated to the Central Asia Institute (CAI). The children in Afghanistan made drawings of her that were in their published books because of how much she had made an impact on them,” Mueller said “when their village needed a water system, Julia wiped out her savings in order to make that happen.”
One of the many amazing contributions Bergman provided to City College was the Rosenberg Library. According to her brother Ernie Bergman the project was her “baby.”
“Julia would say it was a team effort but ask any faculty and they would tell you that it was her leadership that built the library together,” Bergman’s brother said.
Mathematics professor Guy De Primo recalled how he and Berman first met.
“Julia and I were on the same committee during City College’s campaign to save the Balboa Reservoir. Afterwards, I saw more of her fiery passion when she persuaded me to contribute to CAI.”
The president of City College’s Faculty Union, Tim Killikelly, recollected about how Berman talked excitedly about her experiences in CAI and the work she did with the youth in Afghanistan, “she was a terrific person and that will always be how I’ll remember her.”
“She always seemed so much larger than life to me,” Berman’s niece Sara Schultz said.
She added: “Julia was like a fairy godmother because she did whatever she could to make our dreams come true. She lived by example and wanted to build a strong foundation for everyone. Even when our wings started to extend, she would still be there to cheer us on.”
Valerie Berger long time companion to Bergman remembers how she frequently rented out the cabin in Grass Valley, CA which later on became her home, “during my stay there, Julia was the most gracious host. It was like like heaven on Earth and because of her I was able to experience that type of refuge.”
Shawny Barry-Brown, a friend of Bergman since elementary school said that she represents all of us as one person. Each speech was an accurate depiction of Bergman.
The music department also gave their contributions. Keith Mueller played “Julia” by John Lennon on the ukulele which was followed by a sing-along of Bergman’s favorite song “Imagine” also by John Lennon.
The night before the tribute Mueller was looking through her collection of sheet music when she came across a song called “Peculiar Julia” from the play “The Maid and the Mummy.”
“I haven’t seen this in years and found it by complete coincidence! It’s almost like Julia led me to it. I thought it would be a great silly little song to play for the event. It was something she would like because we had the same quirky humor,” Mueller said.