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Jack Berger, teacher, Cattaraugus County legislator ; Jan. 7, 1922 -- Jan. 28, 2011

Jack Berger occupied a lot of roles in his 89 years -- as a band member who entertained wounded troops during World War II, a longtime teacher, a member of the Cattaraugus County Legislature and as a bus driver who drove celebrities and sports teams.

Mr. Berger, of Main Street, East Randolph, died Friday in his home.

A native of Delevan, Ill., he lived in southwest Nebraska before moving with his family to the Town of Boston in 1936. His World War II military service began in the Signal Corps attached to the Army Air Forces, before he transferred to the 310th Army Service Forces Band based in Casablanca. He played trombone in a 27-piece regimental band that entertained the wounded in field hospitals, dignitaries at airports, arriving and departing troop ships, area USO shows and in concerts for civilian groups.

Back home, Mr. Berger played semiprofessionally for 12 years throughout Western New York with the Art Dedrick Big Band.

He graduated from Buffalo State College before earning his master's degree from New York University.

Mr. Berger's 29-year teaching career began in 1949 as a driver education instructor in the early Shared Services Program between Cattaraugus and Randolph Central schools, before he became one of the first nine teachers in the BOCES system in Cattaraugus County.

He was elected to the Cattaraugus County Legislature, serving 10 years, and was chairman of the Conservation, Wildlife and Forestry Committee, which was responsible for the construction of Onoville Marina on the Kinzua Reservoir.

For 19 summers, Mr. Berger drove cross-country charter coaches for Blue Bird Coach Lines, transporting such notables as singer Connie Stevens, Jane Fonda, the Buffalo Bills and professional basketball teams.

Mr. Berger also worked as a freelance news photographer for The Buffalo Evening News, Cattaraugus Times, Randolph Register, Salamanca Press and Jamestown Post-Journal.

Survivors include his wife of more than 60 years, the former Noralyn LeFort; two daughters, Diane Hennessy and Carol Wellman; and a son, Duane.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Randolph United Presbyterian Church, 186 Main St.


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