Olean, NY – Donald M. “Don” Bergreen passed away peacefully on Monday, April 10, 2017 at Olean General Hospital with family by his side.
He was born July 30, 1924, in Allegany, New York, the first child of Roy and Doris MacMurray Bergreen. On October 14, 1950 at the First Presbyterian Church of Olean, he married Margaret L. Bergreen, who died September 9, 2014. They shared nearly 64 years of marriage.
Don was a graduate of Allegany High School, class of 1942. He continued his education and studied accelerated electronics at Alfred Tech from 1942-1943.
On October 6, 1943, Don was drafted into the U.S. Army, and he received infantry training in Camp Blanding, Florida. He was shipped to England in March 1944, arriving in Bristol on April 4th. Training continued at Camp Houndstone in preparation for D-Day. He landed on Omaha Beach a few days after D-Day as a replacement assigned to the First Engineer Combat Battalion attached to the First Infantry Division, joining them at Caumont. He participated in many campaigns including Normandy, northern France, the Ardennes, central Europe, and Rhineland. His division held the north flank of the Battle of the Bulge. After crossing the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany his battalion met up with the Russians in Cheb, Czechoslovakia, where he was located when WWII ended.
Upon his return home from the war, Don continued his education at St. Bonaventure before transferring to Grove City College. He graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree. More recently, in May 2015, Alfred State/SUNY College of Technology invited Don to their graduation ceremony where he was honored with a diploma as he wasn’t able to complete his education due to his WWII participation.
In 1950, Don and Peg were married, and Don began working for his father-in-law, Charles Hunter, at Hunter Insurance Agency in Olean. In 1956, Don purchased the agency and operated the business for the next 33 years before selling it to his son-in-law, Douglas Price.
Don was a long-time dedicated member of and leader within the First Presbyterian Church of Olean, where he served as a Deacon and an Elder. He was also a community leader, serving in many volunteer capacities including: President of United Way, Treasurer of the Olean Area Camp Fire Council, Board of Directors of the Olean YMCA, volunteer for Interfaith Caregivers, and President of Bartlett Country Club. From 1969 to 1974, he was a member of the Olean Board of Education. Don served as President for two years, during which time the former Thatcher Glass site on Wayne Street was acquired and a junior high school building was constructed. His daughter Polly is particularly proud that her father’s signature is on her Olean High School diploma.
In 1956, Don and Peg discovered what became his favorite place, Walker Lake, in Ontario, Canada. For over 60 years, the Bergreen family traveled to this all-time-favorite summer vacation spot. Don craved the beauty and the peacefulness he shared there with family.
Don was an FCC Advanced Class licensed ham radio operator, and his car license plate was his call letters KF2CH. He loved fixing things, and his toolbox traveled with him just about everywhere. Family traditions were important, and they included making Swedish Pickled Herring as well as decorating with lights their outdoor fifty-foot blue spruce at Christmas-time. His interests over the years also included golf, dinner with friends, sailing on Cuba Lake, and more recently the fellowship with the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out) at the Beef ‘n Barrel.
Don and Peg were welcoming host parents to two foreign exchange students, Gerry Billing of Australia and Gunilla Lundqvist of Sweden, who remain “sisters” to Betsy and Polly.
Don was pre-deceased by his sister Anne Bergreen Fitch, and brothers David Bergreen and Robert Bergreen.
Surviving family members include two daughters, Betsy Bergreen (Douglas) Price of Olean and Polly Bergreen (Duncan) Pyle of North Andover, Mass.; four grandchildren, Randall (Katie) Price, Kristie Price (Tim) Lindhome, Margaret Pyle (Laert) Rusha, and Thomas Hunter Pyle; five great-grandchildren, Brennan, Delaney, and Owen Price and Henry and Elsa Lindhome. Don is also survived by many extended family members.
The family plans a memorial service in July, date to be determined.
Arrangements are under the direction of Casey, Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home, Olean, NY.
Memorial gifts may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 1608, Olean, NY 14760, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation 301 N. Union Street, Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760, or Alfred State College, 10 Upper College Drive, Alfred, NY 14802.