Obituaries » John Gilbert Bergmann
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May 3, 1939 - October 23, 2023
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Our beloved dad and grandpa, John Gilbert Bergmann, passed away peacefully on October 23, 2023, surrounded by family. He was ready to join his wife, Susan Murray Bergmann, who preceded him in death just one year earlier.
Born and raised in Seattle, John spent his entire life in the city he called home. He began his educational journey at St. John’s School, followed by a dedicated pursuit of the priesthood at St. Edward Seminary, where he graduated from high school. He was an all-around athlete, an exceptional student, and a model of character.
His journey toward the priesthood led him to major in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas at St. Thomas College, where he graduated in 1961. Recognized for his exceptional promise, John was selected to study theology in Rome at Gregorian University. He immersed himself in study, religion, and the city that held his heart for a lifetime. It was in Rome that he made the difficult and life-changing decision to leave the priesthood. He loved the Church and remained a devout Catholic his whole life, but he felt called to have a family.
Upon his return to Seattle, John married Susan Murray in 1963, and together they shared 59 years of loving partnership. The early years were busy with John working as a teacher at St. John’s School while attending law school at the University of Washington, graduating in 1965. During this time, the couple’s three children were welcomed into the world.
John was a true role model in family life, balancing his demanding career with unwavering dedication to his family. He coached soccer, led Y Guides, taught Marriage Encounters and CCD through St. Luke’s, where he and Susan were active their whole lives. He was a mentor to many and cared for family and friends as his own. He was a lifelong learner who inspired curiosity in his family. Along the way, he also brought the fun. He was always planning adventures with family and friends—hiking with friends and their kids, an annual golf tournament at the Whidbey cabin, family reunions, golf trips with Big Wheels, lots of tennis, lots of ski trips. He made annual trips to Lake Chelan memorable, playing King of the Dock and games with family and friends. He brought extra flare and magic to every holiday, creating traditions that continue to this day in each of his kids’ families.
John made a quiet, exemplary, and lasting mark with all the service he did for others. He supported a shelter for pregnant single moms and spent decades with St. Vincent de Paul, including as president of the King County Council. He volunteered at St. Luke’s in many capacities and loved being a chef at the Spaghetti Dinner. He was deeply involved in the AA community, supporting other lawyers and sponsoring people at his favorite meeting in South Lake Union. He was the personal reason behind many life changes and positive new paths. He often used his legal skills to provide pro bono service to friends, family and St. Luke parishioners. His heart was always with those in need, often being the anonymous person who stepped in to help when needed.
As a highly respected and successful lawyer, John truly loved his career. He felt fortunate to do this work with people he enjoyed and learned from. He is described by his partners as a great trial lawyer, iconic, a “lawyer’s lawyer,” a true gentleman, humble, a “presence,” and someone who could not have led the firm better as managing partner, doing so with much love and heart, putting people first. He had great mentors in his early career, and intentionally strove to pay that back to young lawyers along the way. He earned many awards including Trial Lawyer of the Year and served as president of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. His loyal friends at Helsell Fetterman have shown our family the meaning of friendship through the last challenging years of his life.
Later in life, John’s favorite and most impactful role was grandpa to seven lucky kids. He and Susan jumped at every moment spent with the kids, creating lasting memories through overnights, adventures, trips, and enthusiastic support at every game and performance. He was a baby whisperer, always able to quiet a crying baby. He wrestled them on the floor, played games, made them pancake breakfasts, and served them ice cream sundaes that were way too big after grandma’s spaghetti.
John is preceded in death by his wife Susan (Murray) Bergmann; parents Aloysius and Gilberte (Malo) Bergmann; brother Robert Bergmann; sister Lorraine (Bergmann) McDevitt; father and mother-in-law Robert and Bette (Miles) Murray; & brother-in-law and sister-in-law Robert and Madelyn Murray.
He is survived by children Corinne Bergmann, Lynanne Struss (Brad), & Dave Bergmann (Meredith); treasured grandchildren Addison, David and Valerie Pann, Colson, Miles and Lila Struss, & Donovan Bergmann; brother Gene Bergmann; brothers in law Jim Murray (Renee) & Tom Murray; sister-in-law Dorothy Bergmann.
Funeral services will be Monday, December 11th at St. Luke Catholic Church in Shoreline at 11am, followed by a reception. The mass will be said by Father Jim Eblen who attended the seminary with John.
Donations in John’s honor may be made to St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpseattle.org) or the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org).