Oswald Berg Jr. (1918 - 2008)

2 entries
  • "Now, peace be with Ozzie's Family, Architecture is such a..."
    - Vince Werner, AIA retired
  • "Still can't hardly believe that Uncle Ozzie is gone, but we..."
    - Steven Irion
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Oswald Berg Jr., 89, noted architect, died Sept. 24 in Billings following a short battle with cancer. Ozzie was born in Lewistown on Oct. 8, 1918 to Oswald Sr. and Ingartha Thormodsgaard Berg.

He grew up on the family ranch that his grandfather had homesteaded in 1890 on the upper Mussellshell near Lennep and Martinsdale. His early childhood was idyllic, immersed in family, music and the great outdoors of horses, sheep, cattle and wildlife. That serene life suddenly changed when his mother died in 1931 and the Berg kids were sent to live with their aunt and uncle, Martha and A.K. Carlson, in Bozeman where they were educated. Summers were spent on the ranch with evenings full of music and Ozzie learning about the clarinet. After graduating from Gallatin County High School in 1935, he studied a year at St. Olaf College and later graduated from Washington State College in Architecture in 1940.

During World War II, Ozzie worked for the Department of Navy in Washington, DC, where he met his wife, Norma Thompson. They were married in 1943 and, following the war, moved to Pullman, Wash., where Ozzie did graduate studies in Architecture at WSC. There he began both his career and, with the birth of son, Wayne, in 1946 and daughter, Carol, in 1948, his family.

The family moved to Bozeman in 1949 where Ozzie started his own architectural practice. Over the span of 60-plus years Ozzie designed about 200 buildings including 37 schools more than 25 buildings at Montana State University including the fieldhouse and NMC, 18 banks, 15 government and 15 industrial buildings plus numerous residences. In 1981, Ozzie left Montana to work in Colorado, then New Jersey and finally with his son, Wayne, also an architect, in New York. Ozzie semi-retired in 1995 in Billings. There, at age 88 he finished his last bank which was recently built in Helena.

His architectural work has been published in "Architectural Record," "House & Gardens," "Metropolis" and "Colliers" magazines. He received three Montana AIA design awards and a national FHA design award for Hillcrest Homes in Bozeman. Ozzie believed in giving back to the community and frequently donated his architectural services designing park structures, monuments and other features for both Bozeman and Billings.

Throughout the years, Ozzie continued to play his clarinet as a part of the Bozeman symphony and with Shrine and community bands in both Bozeman and Billings. Music, architecture, flying and skiing were his passions. Even this summer, his clarinet could be heard in 4th of July parades in Livingston and other cities.

Ozzie belonged to numerous organizations, serving as president of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, Montana Chapter of the AIA, Bozeman Art Society, Longfellow PTA and USSA Northern Division. He helped found and served on the boards of the Bozeman Symphony Society and the Riverside Country Club. He also served as a Lt. Governor of Montana Kiwanis and Vice President of the United States Ski Association.

Ozzie is survived by daughter Carol of Santa Cruz, Calif., sister Marion Larson of Portland, Ore., brother James of Montrose, Colo. and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Wayne, wife Norma and sister Lois Marie Irion.

Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 5 in the old Hope Lutheran Church, which Ozzie designed, at 210 S. Grand Ave. The family requests donations be made, in lieu of flowers, to the Bozeman Symphony or St. John's Lutheran Ministries.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Sept. 28, 2008
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