Carson City’s Martha Berger celebrates 100th birthday
Martha Berger is always on the go.
“She has more of a social life than the rest of us put together,” said Jan Leonard, one of Berger’s grand nieces.
But, next week will be busier than usual for the longtime Carson City resident.
On Oct. 23, Berger — who is known as Betty to friends and Aunt Betty to her many relatives — is celebrating her 100th birthday.
Her friends and family, which includes five generations and probably as many members as years Berger is celebrating, are hosting a party at First Presbyterian Church to mark the day.
A special guest is Rep. Mark Amodei, who is expected to attend to present Berger with a flag once flown from the Capitol Building. Gov. Brian Sandoval has already sent a certificate of recognition to commemorate the milestone.
No one is more deserving of the honor, says her family.
“She has the biggest heart in the world,” said Lisa Yenter, another grand niece.
Berger moved to Carson City from Wyoming about 85 years ago.
“Dad had asthma and wanted a change in climate,” said Berger.
Her father was a barber, her mother the buyer for The Dress Shop downtown, and Berger, who graduated from Carson High School, was an only child.
Then she met Clarence Berger, the youngest of seven children.
“She married into a great big tribe,” said Dawn Berger, Berger’s grand niece.
The couple spent four years in San Francisco while Clarence served in the Marine Corps during World War II.
They returned to Carson City, and moved into a new brick house. Clarence worked in the U.S. Post Office and Betty worked for 10 years in a bank at Carson and Telegraph streets, then went to work for the state doing accounting and payroll for 31 years until she retired.
Berger has barely slowed down since.
Soon after retiring, she enrolled in painting classes at the Brewery Arts Center, and today her own accomplished oil paintings line the walls of her house.
“When you finish a picture you think, ‘Well, this is OK,’” said Berger pointing to her favorite painting.
She hasn’t painted as much since her husband, Clarence, passed away a dozen years ago.
Berger traveled to Germany, Spain, Italy, England, and Portugal, most often with a German woman who lived with the Berger’s during her last years of high school in Carson City and who remains a good friend.
Until a few years ago, when she broke her hip, Berger practiced yoga regularly and can still show off a few poses that would challenge someone half her age.
“I hurt my back a few years ago. This is when she was 95 and she started showing me all these yoga moves that I couldn’t do,” said grand niece Dawn Berger.
She has always had dogs, ever since returning to Carson City after the war, and plans to soon adopt another dog now that Charlie Brown, her 14 year-old rescued beagle, died a month ago.
“When Clarence was alive, Charlie Brown would howl when I went to the store,” said Berger.
And she only recently stopped driving.
“I got an extra year in there,” Berger said.
Despite that, Berger is always busy. She subs in a weekly bridge game that includes friends Gertrude Gottschalk, 102, and Patricia Holub, 95. She eats lunch every week with another friend, Julie Wangberg, 97. And she attends Leisure Hour Club events and a monthly lunch with her Christian widows group.
And, of course, she spends time with her many relatives, even the littlest ones like Leonard’s seven grandchildren.
“They all know Aunt Betty,” said her grand niece.