Charles Merrell (“Chuck”) Berg, 75, died July 26, 2016 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. A memorial celebration will be held Sunday, November 20th at 2pm, at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.
He was born to Richard Charles and Frederica Merrell Berg on July 1, 1941. Growing up, he lived in Towson, MD, Springfield, MA, and Yonkers, NY. As a teen in New York, he enjoyed working as a page at Rockefeller Center, and as a band member of the NBC Swing Kings. After studying music for a year at CUNY (Potsdam), he enlisted in the Army. Following Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood (MO), he served three years with the Army Security Agency in Japan (1961-64).
Upon discharge he enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he met a girl – fellow student Beth Noe, from Holton, (KS) – and immediately knew he’d spend the rest of his life with her! She knew it too! They married between semesters on Kansas Day, 1966. Deepest gratitude to the Powers That Be, and every lucky star, for the fabulous fifty years Chuck and Beth got to share side by side!
After Chuck completed his studies (Journalism and Radio / TV/ Film), the couple moved to Iowa City, (IA), where Chuck completed his Ph.D. in Film Studies from the University of Iowa (1973). While there, he and Beth were blessed with one of their finest gifts ever: Nathan Charles Berg!
The family moved to NYC (1972-77) where Chuck was a faculty member at Queens College, and also hosted a jazz radio show. He became a noted jazz and arts journalist, writing for Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, Coda, the Lawrence Journal-World, the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Kansas City Star.
In 1977, he joined the faculty at the University of Kansas where he greatly enjoyed teaching and serving for the next 39 years, capping his career as Professor Emeritus, Department of Film and Media Studies.
He chaired the Department of Theatre and Film 2005-2007.
He served nationally in a variety of elected and editorial positions and was recognized with numerous awards. Two he especially cherished were the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award and the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.
A well-regarded jazz saxophonist and flutist, he was a Grammy-voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.
His career was complicated by illness, but he was able to keep teaching / playing / writing, thanks in huge part to the incomparable Dr. Matthew Stein and his dedicated team, with much-appreciated assistance from the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association.
Chuck loved Lawrence, and K.U., and Kansas, and was pleased to volunteer and serve each in numerous and varied capacities over the decades.
He felt immense gratitude for the many joys in his life, and he said so daily. But his cup especially runneth over when it came to his two dear wonderful grandsons; and all of his beloved family, his treasured friends, colleagues and students near and far, including all of the magnificent musicians with whom he got to play through the years! He adored his pups, and felt privileged to be a member of their pack!
Chuck was deeply moved by the beauty and power of music. And the art and magic of film. He delighted in the promise and possibilities of words. Add in books, theatre, art, family jams, sports, drives to the lake, travels, John Douglas, The Merc and the garden on the deck, and Chuck was often heard to say, “Life is good!”
He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Diana, his brothers Bob and Brian, and pack members Ralph, Charlie, Dexter and Sam I Am.
He is survived by his wife Beth, of the home; his son Nathan Charles (and wife, Yuki Watanabe); the apples-of-his-eye grandsons, Calvin-Kei Watanabe Berg and En Berg Watanabe (all of Dunedin, New Zealand); brothers Kris Berg (and wife Carolyn), Omaha, NE, Steve Berg (and wife Kerstin), Fulda, Germany; nephews Eric Berg (and wife Ronnie), Steve Berg (and wife Suzie), Jay Harris (and wife Maureen); nieces Chrissie Pebley, Bridget Berg, Lilly Berg, Sara B. Harris Manda, six cousins; and companions Zoe and Archie.
The family suggests memorials to The Chuck Berg Film Scholarship (K.U. Department of Film and Media Studies), the Oncology Department at L.M.H., or Lawrence Humane Society, which may be sent c/o Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044.