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Gary Thomas Berger

Gary Thomas Berger
/ Categories: Obituary

Gary Thomas Berger

December 27, 2017

Service Details


The family will receive friends from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at Hohner Funeral Home.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Brenda Deily officiating.

Interment will be held at Prairie River Cemetery, Centreville.                           


Obituary Notice

Gary Thomas Berger, age 69, of Three Rivers passed away suddenly at home on Wednesday, December 27, 2017.  He was born on July 11, 1948 in Three Rivers the son of James E. and Marjorie (Selby) Berger.

Gary was a lifetime resident of Three Rivers. He graduated from Three Rivers High School class of 1966 and went on to attend Ferris State University.  He served his country in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam War.  Upon his honorable discharge he was united in marriage to Connie Daley on August 9, 1974.  Gary was employed at Harding’s Market in Three Rivers, his father’s business, Berger Insurance, North American Products, and as a custodian for Three Rivers Schools.

Gary was an avid Detroit Tigers Fan and enjoyed attending his first game at Comerica Park two years ago.  He enjoyed watching black and white movies and shows as well. He was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church. Gary cherished spending time with his children and grandchildren and attending their activities.  He will be dearly missed by all his friends and family.

He was preceded in passing by mother, Marjorie Berger, sister, Rebecca Sherwood, and mother-in-law, Claribelle Jonker.

Gary leaves to cherish his memory wife of forty three years, Connie Berger of Three Rivers; daughter, Elizabeth (Thomas J.) Pearce of Schoolcraft; son, Thomas A. Berger of Three Rivers; granddaughters, Maya and Molly Pearce; father, James Berger of Tennessee; nephew, Christopher Val Lance of Three Rivers.




Memorial donations may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church.  Envelopes available at the funeral home.                                                                                                                                                     

James “Jim” Lemuel Bippus of Three Rivers, 85, passed away in his home surrounded by family on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Jim had recently been admitted to Borgess Hospital due to complications related to kidney dialysis. When treatments became unsuccessful he determined he would leave this world on his own terms and in his own way. He was an ordinary man that lived an extraordinary life.

Jim was born in Bucyrus, Ohio on September 14, 1932, the youngest child of the late James and Blanch Bippus. When he was seven, his father died and Jim and his five sisters were then raised alone by Blanch, a resilient and strong woman who devoted her life to serving in the Salvation Army.

Jim enlisted into the United States Army. During his service, he earned The National Service Defense Medal. He was honorably discharged from the Army in September of 1955.

Jim attended Ohio State University taking advantage of the G.I. Bill and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. During a six month internship at Essex Wire in Fort Wayne, Jim met and fell in love with Vera H. Mohre; they married in 1958. Jim became employed full time at Essex and took a transfer to Three Rivers, with Vera, and his now six children in tow.

The Essex position didn’t work out the way Jim had imagined, so he quit. After a few months of soul searching he saw the for rent sign in the closed Standard Service Station on Michigan Avenue. So Jim took the test to become a certified mechanic and passed it easily with no formal training. He and Vera opened the station and people started coming.

In 1987 he purchased what would become the Bippus Shell Station on the corner of 131 and Michigan Avenue. Many in the community came to know him for his trustworthy service in auto repair. But more than that, people admired the Bippus family: Vera at the cash register and their children pumping gas, helping to fix cars, or doing inventory on New Year’s Day. In 1997 the station was renovated and instead of offering car repair, now had a restaurant called Vera’s, another sign of Jim’s great love for his wife. Over the years Jim’s business became a cornerstone of the community: a place people met for coffee or lunch and were greeted with warmth and hospitality.

In 2012 Jim and Vera were voted Three River’s Citizens of the Year by the Lion’s Club for their many contributions to the town. Jim made doughnuts on Sunday mornings for the Immaculate Conception Church, read to children at Andrews School, mentored a young student, participated in the County Infrastructure Committee, collected turtles for the Lion’s Club Turtle Derby, and taught auto shop to adults. With his snow plow he kept the Immaculate Conception Church and the Lion’s Club parking lot plowed for free, and also routinely plowed out driveways for others.

Jim was a great lover of classical music. He enjoyed reading books by Thomas Clancy, John Grisham, and James Patterson. He also was a great fan of The Wall Street Journal. Jim loved to play cards and was part of a monthly poker group that met for over 30 years. He and Vera also played in a weekly bridge group for about the same number of years. Equally remarkable, Jim and Vera hosted weekly Sunday dinners for family members and anyone else that wanted to stop by. New people in town were warmly welcomed to the table.

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11 comments on article "Gary Thomas Berger"

Kristine Keener

Dear Connie,

It is with great sadness that we send this message. Please know that we are praying for peace for your family as you go through this most difficult time in your lives.


Kristine and Jack Keener

Nikki Wagner

Gary was such an kind and funny man, he will be greatly missed. I know how much he loved to visit us every 6 months at the office.

Our thoughts our with Connie and her and Garys family.

Harold Pharoah

Dear Connie,

With Sincere Sympathy

I just wanted you to know how deeply saddened I am over Gary's passing. We were friends for over 65 years. Gary was my oldest friend, and I always thought of Gary as the brother I never had. My only regret is that we did not spend more time together. I was proud to call him my friend and I will miss him very much. We have lost one of the kindest and gentlest people I have ever had the privilege to know. I am feeling your pain and sorrow at this difficult time. You have Linda's & my sincere sympathy. It is with deep regret that Linda & I will not be able to attend the funeral next week, however you are in our prayers. - Harold Pharoah

Sharon (Marshall) Syrett

Dear Connie,

My heart is with you Connie. Miles and miles apart we are

but our friendship continues to last from afar. I know you have the strength to overcome the sadness right now and the love you receive from Tom, Elizabeth and grandchildren will give you hope and peace.

Love always, Sharon

Phyllis E Lehman-Ward

Connie, I send my thoughts and deepest sympathy for your loss. I can imagine your devastation, may God and your family provide you the comfort you need to get through this hurtful time. Love ya girl. Phyllis Lehman

Douglas Baker

Connie, you will be in our prayers.

Michael Dunn

My thoughts are with you and your family. He was always a very guy and I am sure that he will be missed by many!

Tom Barnum

Connie, I am so sorry to hear this news, but immediately nemember my early days in Three Rivers and the very kind man who was your husband. May you and your family carry him and his love with you. Tom Barnum

Darl & Shirley Brown


Please accept our condolences on the loss of your husband. We are praying for you that God will walk with you during this most difficult time. Please feel free to call.

Waneta Truckey

Connie I am so sorry to hear of Gary’s passing. I remember Gary as a hardworking custodian in our district. I know how difficult it is to lose a spouse so unexpectedly. My deepest sympathy goes to you and your family. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “ Death ends a life; Not a relationship.” Hugs

Alison Fletcher

Connie, I am very sorry to hear the news of his passing. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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