Max Lorenz Berg
March 12, 1925 – September 4, 2015
Max L. Berg, former city clerk of San Clemente and former 40+ year proprietor of the Sportsmen’s Catering Service located at the Wister Unit Wildlife Refuge in Niland Ca., passed away joyfully and peacefully at the age of 90, at home with family by his side on September 4, 2015.
Max was born in Boone County, Nebraska on March 12, 1925 to Lorenz Christian Berg and Hazel Irene (Morgan) Berg. Max grew up on the family farm until the age of 12. His family moved to nearby Albion Nebraska where he helped his dad after school at the family gas station. While attending Albion High School, Max had a great interest in theatre arts and was also selected to attend Boys State engaging in mock political activities, which inspired his interest in civic affairs. At 17, Max worked for the Boone County Deputy County Recorder’s office where he gained knowledge of public affairs.
In 1943 Max joined the United States Marine Corp, and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in the 5th Marine Division. Max joined the Special Services Unit, touring the South Pacific, entertaining the troops with the USMC Lt. Bob Crosby Band, performing impersonations as the band’s stand-up comedian.
While stationed at Camp Pendleton, Max met and later married Helen Russell whose family had lived in San Clemente since 1935. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and went to work for the Fox West Coast Theaters as an assistant manager at the Gateway Theatre in Glendale. In 1948 he moved back to San Clemente and worked various jobs in construction, as a school bus driver and proprietor of the Berg Shell Station, located near North Beach.
In 1950, Max started working for the City of San Clemente as a reserve Police Officer, and then became the license inspector and deputy city clerk for the City. In 1956, Max ran for City Clerk and was appointed to eight 4-year terms. During that time he also acted as Acting City Manager on several occasions. Max’s career with the City of San Clemente spanned 35-years until his retirement in 1985.
As City Clerk he attended over 1,000 city council meetings, worked with 41 different council members and 7 city managers. Noted for his amiable manner and helpfulness, he earned the reputation of being, “A veritable institution of City Hall,” “Mr. San Clemente,” “Mr. Information.” “He holds a distinctive record of public service, a true credit to his profession and a model of the perfect public servant.” “Max displays outstanding leadership, dedicated serve to the City and its citizens.”
For these many reasons Max was honored with many distinctions including being the first resident of San Clemente to be chosen as “Citizen of the Year” by the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce. He has also been honored as a Wall of Recognition recipient and recognized by the California City Clerk’s Association for his exemplary public service. And finally, perhaps his greatest honor, by the City of San Clemente with the renaming of the City’s oldest park to “Max Berg Plaza Park.”
After retiring from the City in 1985, Max worked seasonally for the next 22-years as a Park Ranger at Camp Edison, Shaver Lake, CA, located in the Western Sierra Mountains. Max was a true outdoorsman and had a passion and respect for nature and wildlife. He loved to fish and hunt. During the 1960’s he started a seasonal business at the Wister Water Fowl Game Refuge at Salton Sea called “Sportsmen’s Catering Service,” where he sold hunting and food supplies to the hunters. He ran this business for over 40-years.
Max was very proud to be a WWII Veteran; he loved his country and the American Flag and what it stands for. He was a genuinely kind person, a humble public servant, a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. If you were lucky enough to know Max and be his friend, you had a friend for life. His smile was warm and inviting, and the sparkle in his blue eyes was a reflection of his love for life and finding happiness in even the smallest things. Max lived the last 8-years enjoying his daughter Debbie and family’s home in Vista. His 90 1⁄2 years truly was well lived.
Max is survived by his four children, Barry Berg, Linda Weigel, Sherry Murphy, Debbie Berg-Swaton and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Max’s honor on Sunday, October 18, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Max Berg Plaza Park, 1100 Calle Puente, San Clemente CA. In lieu of flowers, donations in Max’s memory can be made to the following: San Clemente Historical Society at P.O. Box 283, San Clemente, CA 92674, www.sanclementehistoricalsociety.org and Desert Wildlife Unlimited at P.O. Box 1338, Brawley, CA 92227, www.desertwildlifeunlimited.org. For more information contact Sherry (Berg) Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.