Eileen Mary Opatz Berger, 96, passed peacefully in her home on Jan. 9, surrounded by family and immeasurable love. Born on May 3, 1926, in Sauk Rapids, MN, Eileen graduated from Cathedral high School in St. Cloud, and during World War II helped build C47 transport planes as a "Rosie the Riveter." She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in 1948 and remained an active alumna as association president and class representative for 60 years. Eileen married Gerald Berger in 1950 and was mother to five children: Joan, Jay, Paul, Mark and Julie. Eileen and Gerry enjoyed tennis, skiing, entertaining, living the “lake life” on White Bear Lake and traveling extensively, and even in her later years Eileen continued organizing trips abroad with her family.
At age 50, Eileen became foreign student advisor at Lakewood Community College and made life-long friends from Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Gambia, Nigeria, Germany, France, Japan, Korea and China. It was during this time that she also earned a Master's Degree at the University of Wisconsin/River Falls, and for many years taught English as a Second Language to young women through the University of Minnesota. In addition to her family her students were the biggest joy in her life. Eileen was on the first board of directors for the White Bear Center for the Arts and co-president when the organization hired its first director. She also volunteered as a teacher and religious education director, a cantor and a lector at St. Jude of the Lake Parish in Mahtomedi for many years. Her love of singing included church choirs and a long-time association with the Silver Harmony Singers. In 1989, at age 63, Eileen wrote the 50-year history of St. Jude's Parish and learned to use the computer. During the following 25 years, she wrote the following family histories: Alex Opatz Family History, Stephen Sobiech Family History, Mary DeLa Hunt History, her three-volume autobiography and the George Berger Family History. In 2017, at age 90, she and her daughter, Joan Berger Bachman, co-authored a conversational manual called If Only You Would Ask, a helpful tool to foster meaningful conversation with the elderly (available on Amazon.)
After age 90, Eileen continued teaching a group of beloved students from India, Ecuador and Mexico. During the remaining years of her life, she wrote poetry, classroom teaching aid materials and outlines for several new books. Her other favorite activities included entertaining, reading, travel and teaching cursive to her great grand-children. Eileen enjoyed playing tennis until age 91, and was still very hard to beat at "Bean Bag Toss" at annual family picnics. At 96, Eileen had relished remaining fully independent, driving herself around town and managing two homes, in White Bear Lake and Sun City West, Arizona.
Preceding her in death was her husband, Gerald; brothers, Ralph, James, and Jerry. Her descendants include her beloved children: Joan (John), Jay (Patricia), Paul (Mary Cecilia), Mark (Daria), Julie (Scott); 13 grandchildren: Anna (Andrew), Sam (Kristi), Maria (Jimmy), Natalie, Olivia (Luckas), Lorna, Beau, Greta, Allegra, Luke, Michael, Lily and Adeline; and seven great-grandchildren: Jack, Caroline, Blake, Emma, Bella, William and John; and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, January 14, at Church of St. Pius X, 3878 Highland Ave, White Bear Lake. Visitation will be held from 4-7:30 PM on Friday, January 13, at Mueller Memorial, 4738 Bald Eagle Ave, White Bear Lake, and also an hour prior to the mass on Saturday. Private family interment. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the College of St. Benedict, Eileen Berger Scholarship Fund; to make a gift online, go to www.givecsb.com . One of Eileen’s legacies was wearing hats for special occasions. Women are encouraged to wear hats to her funeral.
For those who are unable to attend Eileen's funeral mass in person are encourage to join us via livestream, which can be found here: https://www.churchofstpiusx.org/parish-live-stream