Elizabeth Berg Brookings


June 27, 1921 – Oct. 17, 2018

Elizabeth Ann Berg, nee Hall, 97, died Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in the comfort of her family at Brookings hospital. 

Memorial services are at 11 a.m Friday, Nov. 2 at First Presbyterian Church. An open celebration of her life will be held on at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the South Dakota Art Museum.

Elizabeth was born June 27, 1921, at Grandin, Minnesota. She graduated from high school at Hendrum, Minnesota, in 1939, where she had met Sherwood when she was 5. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English from Jamestown University (then College) in 1944. 

She and Sherwood married that year when he was home on leave from World War II. She taught English at Cooperstown High School for a year and was then secretary to Jamestown College Presidents Bernard Kroeze and Howard J. Bell until Sherwood’s return at the end of the war.

Sherwood and Elizabeth were always a team; according to him, she “could handle ideas with the best of them” with natural warmth and grace, and from the outset they made life-long friendships around the world. 

From 1951 to 1957, Sherwood served as agricultural attaché first in Yugoslavia and then in Denmark, where Elizabeth flourished as a mother and enthusiastic participant in diplomatic life. From 1957 they were at the University of Minnesota where Sherwood became Dean of the St. Paul Campus in 1963 and Elizabeth grew into the roll of consummate hostess. Sherwood served as resident director on a Midwestern Universities Consortium of International Aid (MUCIA) project in Indonesia from 1973 to 1975 where Elizabeth developed her love of Indonesian textiles. 

From 1975 until 1984 Sherwood was president and Elizabeth first lady of South Dakota State University. They returned to Indonesia with MUCIA from 1984 to 1986, and then back home to Brookings where Elizabeth happily resumed her memberships in the South Dakota Art Museum Guild, AAUW, Brookings Woman’s Club, Faculty Women’s Club, PEO Chapter BP, and Brookings County Democrats. In 2005, she received with “euphoria” an honorary Doctorate of Public Service.

 Elizabeth is survived by two children: Mary Elizabeth of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Bradley Joseph (Nina) of Brookings; two grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Phyllis Berg of Chevy Chase, Maryland; nieces and nephews on both sides of the family; and countless friends with whom she shared laughter, inspiration, and joy.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Sherwood O. (“Woody”) Berg, who died on Feb. 16, 2014. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Young Faculty Award Endowment at SDSU, the Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg South Dakota Art Museum Student Internship Endowment at SDSU, the Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Endowed Scholarship in Economics at SDSU, the Dr. Sherwood and Elizabeth Berg Scholarship Endowment for American Indian Students, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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