Aug. 15, 1922 – Nov. 2, 2017
V. Donald Bergner, a retired Bell Aerospace engineer, died unexpectedly Thursday in his Williamsville home. He was 95.
Born in Buffalo, he was an East High School graduate and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in three years from Canisius College.
At Canisius, Mr. Bergner learned to fly under an Army Air Corps program, and during World War II he was an Army flight instructor locally. He later served for a year with occupation forces in southern Japan.
He returned and earned a second bachelor’s degree, in electrical engineering, at the University of Buffalo. He later completed a master’s degree in electrical engineering at UB.
Mr. Bergner first worked for Trico, then at Bell. He left to join other local aviation companies, but returned to Bell, where he specialized in micro-miniaturization. He was part of the team that produced the guidance system for the Galileo spacecraft, which explored Jupiter. He retired in 1986.
He learned piano and violin at an early age – his mother was a music teacher – and he played violin with the Buffalo Junior Philharmonic Orchestra.
He also planted thousands of evergreen trees on farm he owned near Franklinville, and he tapped the sugar maple trees there to make maple syrup.
His other accomplishments included growing vegetable and flower gardens, building bookcases and learning accounting.
He was a lifetime member of the Tonawanda Sportsmens Club and, until a few weeks ago, swam twice weekly at the Tonawanda Aquatic and Fitness Center.
In retirement, he and his wife, the former Rosemary A. Kazus, traveled extensively, took many cruises and maintained a winter home in Indian Shores, Fla. They were married 62 years, until her death in 2011.
Mr. Bergner is survived by two daughters, Donna Internicola and Shirley; a son, William; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Monday in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 200 St. Gregory Court, Amherst.