A Life of Giving becomes a Legacy

Judy Berges ’63 – A Woman of Modest Means Who Made a Difference

Judy Berges ’63 filled many roles during her life: She was a daughter, a friend, a student, a teacher, a pastor, a part-time travel agent, and a philanthropist.

Judy, who lived humbly, passed away on February 28, 2017. Throughout her life, those who knew her say she firmly believed that you didn’t have to be wealthy to support charities and nonprofit organizations and to give freely of one’s time.

Judy donated to Allegheny for 38 consecutive years, and her legacy currently supports three initiatives at the College.

  • The Reverend and Mrs. Carl Edward Berges International Fund. Judy started this fund in honor of her parents. The income from this fund is awarded to an international student or to a student studying abroad to help defray educational expenses.
  • Judith A. Berges ’63 Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is given to a student who, without this support, might not be able to remain enrolled at Allegheny.
  • Judith A. Berges Fund for Religious Life, which provides support for the Spiritual and Religious Life Office.

“She was delighted and proud to be able to provide the College with a substantial gift through a bequest and two gift annuities on a teacher’s/pastor’s salary,” says Melissa Mencotti, director of gift planning.

“Judy often became emotional when I shared stories of student successes and struggles,” adds Jennifer Wardwell, the College’s director of major gifts.

Judy also was generous with her time, serving on the College’s Alumni Council and her reunion committees, and she was very engaged in her Western New York community.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Allegheny and a master’s degree in education from the University at Buffalo. She also spent a summer semester doing graduate work at the University of Oslo in Norway, where she first experienced the joy of travel and study away.

Her first career was as an elementary school teacher, and Judy taught in the North Tonawanda, New York, public schools for more than 30 years. She was also the longtime owner of a travel agency, Berges Tours, often sending special invitations to Allegheny alumni.

“Judy liked the back roads and places off the beaten path,” says Kathy Nelson ’59. “Our trips almost always included a boat ride, a train ride, and at least one surprise something. We saw the cows come home from the high Alps meadows, Father Christmas coming to town by boat, and visited a three-story model train exhibit.” 

After retiring from the classroom, Judy chose to follow in the ministerial footsteps of her father, graduating from the New York Conference’s lay ministry program and serving for many years as a licensed lay pastor. Judy’s service to the wider church was substantial. She was board chair of the United Church Home Society; served as secretary and then moderator of the Western Association; was on the board of Fox Run, the Western Association’s continuing care retirement community; and served for two terms on the Church and Ministry Committee. 

She also self-published Perusings of a Pastor (Xulon Press), a collection of sermons, meditations, and photographs. As a final gesture of giving, Judy donated her body to the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. 

Judy’s thoughtful planning will continue to provide opportunities for new generations, particularly at Allegheny. “She was fiercely proud of what she had saved in her private estate,” says Wardwell, “and extremely proud that Allegheny College would benefit from her fiscal discipline.”