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February 20, 1944 to March 31, 2021- Robert Neil Bergeron, 77, Portland, former Gresham and Newport resident, Died March 31, in the VA Community Living Center in Vancouver.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Robert Neil BergeronRobert Neil Bergeron, 77, Portland, former Gresham and Newport resident, died March 31 in the VA Community Living Center in Vancouver. A U.S. Navy officer who served nearly three years in Vietnam aboard the U.S.S. Ranger, his illness was attributed to exposure to chemicals as a weapons officer. Private interment will be at Willamette National Cemetery. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the family will schedule a reception in June, once it is safer to gather. Bob was born February 20, 1944, in Spokane, Washington, to Raymond and Mary (Fehrenbacher) Bergeron, the fifth of six children, and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, before moving to Gresham with his family at age 5. He attended West Gresham Grade School, St. Henry's Catholic Church and school, and Central Catholic High in Portland, graduating in the class of 1962. He graduated from University of Oregon in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. In August 1966, he joined the U.S. Navy, attending officer candidate school in Newport, Rhode Island, accepted a commission for active duty, and was assigned to the Ranger from January 1967 to October 1969, achieving the rank of Lieutenant JG. Bob met Tonya Stacy in San Francisco in 1968, when his ship was in port between Vietnam tours. The two corresponded during his final tour, and after his discharge he proposed marriage on the day of the Moon Landing, July 20, 1969. They married at St. Henry's Catholic Church in Gresham Nov. 21, 1969, and had three sons, Andy (1970), Bill (1973), and Joe (1976). Always a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, he adored his wife throughout 51 years of marriage and said so, loved and was proud of his children and said that, too. He began work at W.R. Hicks & Co. department store in downtown Gresham in 1969 with his father, Ray, brothers, Jim and Ron, as well as Richard Hicks. There, he made friends throughout the community. He was active in the Rotary Club of Gresham, serving as president from 1979 to 1980. The Hicks store remained in business until 1988, but Bob and his brother, Jim, saw promise in the historic Duane C. Ely Building on Gresham's Main Street, and a second business, Pacific Crest Clothing Company, was launched with Bob in Gresham and Jim in Sunriver. "Bob was one of the original catalysts for a revived downtown Gresham," remembers Mark Garber, president of Pamplin Media Group, who was then editor of the Gresham Outlook newspaper. "The Pacific Crest Clothing Co., alongside the Hessel's old Main Street Grocery, was a big part of the transition from a traditional downtown to one that that emphasized specialty shops and historic character." When the Gresham store closed in 1991, Bob joined Jim in Sunriver. In 1996, the couple moved to Newport, where he worked at Agate Beach Golf Course 13 years until retiring in 2010. A passionate gardener during his years in Gresham and Newport, he achieved Master Gardener status in Lincoln County with the Oregon State Extension Office. His specialties: an ornamental Japanese garden and a greenhouse in Newport. When Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014, the couple chose to move to Portland to be closer to family and medical care, making friends at Bethany Athletic Club and at the Oregon & Southwest Washington Chapter of the Alzheimer's

Association. With the latter group, Bob was a Memories in the Making artist and had works auctioned for the education and advocacy organization. In January 2020, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledged that his Alzheimer's was caused by his time in Vietnam, when he was exposed to napalm and other toxins in munitions as a weapons officer. He received crucial end-of-life care at the Portland VA Medical Center, including the Palliative Care and Hospice Unit in Vancouver. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Ron, and by his son, Andy. The loss of Andy, at age 22, to leukemia in 1993 was a life-changing event that he recalled with tears and deep emotion for the rest of his life. He is survived by his wife Tonya of Portland; son, Bill, and spouse Melanie Gipp (grandchildren Elise and Claire) of Portland; son Joe of Portland; and siblings Les (Barbara) Bergeron of Portland, Rae (Joe) Gardner of Woodbury, Minnesota, Sue

Henningsen of Portland, and Jim (Phyllis) Bergeron of Bend; and many nieces and nephews. Final arrangements were entrusted to Holman's Funeral & Cremation Service in Portland, Memorial donations may be made to:

SnowCap Community Charities (www.snowcap.org) Samaritan House (www.samfamshelter.org) Alzheimer's Association Oregon & Southwest Washington Chapter (www.alz.org/orswwa)

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