EmRance "Em" LaVern Berger

February 7, 1931August 21, 2020
Play Tribute Movie

EmRance (Em) LaVern Berger passed away peacefully, at home in Salem, on Friday morning, August 21st, 2020.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Lois Berger; daughter Cindy (& Michael) Voves and son Vaughn (& Pamela) Berger; grandchildren John (& Pace) Voves, Scott (& April) Voves, EmRance Berger, and Kyla (& Evan) Smith; and great-grandchildren James, Mary Lou, Thomas, and Andrew Voves and EmRance Smith.

EmRance was born February 7, 1931 in Fairdale, North Dakota, the youngest of ten children to Agnes & George Berger. He grew up in the rural northern Minnesota farming community of Roseau, where his lifelong love of internal combustion engines and horsepower was developed, as he tinkered with tractors and early American models of cars and trucks.

Em was stationed in Babenhausen, Germany in 1952 during the Korean conflict. As a service mechanic, Em was granted more latitude than the other service members, which he took full advantage of by getting into various adventures, the stories of which he would continue to tell for the rest of his life (though never the same way twice).

Em returned to Roseau in 1954, and served as a reservist until 1960.

In 1954, at a hockey game in Roseau, Minnesota, Em met Lois Mortensen, on a blind date. They would marry later that year. In 1956 the couple moved to Salem, Oregon, and started a family. Em continued his work as an auto-body repairman specializing in frame work. Throughout this time he made a big name for himself in the Willamette Valley market, both for the quality of his work and his affability. He eventually started his own business, from which he retired at age 62.

Em was a charter member of the Keizer Elks, he was an active participant of the Outsiders Camper Club, and in his later years, a delivery volunteer for Salem-Keizer Meals on Wheels.

Em loved to tell stories and was a man full of mirth and joy. He could make a whole room laugh with a well-timed quip, and he was always very good natured and happy to share in the success of others. He loved to drive fast on the road, off the road cross country, or on his boat on Lake Billy Chinook. His life and stories were always marked by which car he was driving at the time, of which there were many.

He taught his children and grandchildren a love of music, how to ride dirt bikes, how to properly overtake cars and trucks on mountain highways, how to be a good partner in marriage and a hardworking father.

Em will be buried in a private service at Willamette National Cemetery. A Celebration of Life service for all his friends and family will be held on September 17th at 1:00 pm at the Log House Garden at Willow Lake located at 5655 Windsor Island Rd N, Keizer, Oregon. In lieu of flowers donations can be made on Em’s behalf to the Salem Keizer Meals on Wheels.

Grandpa was a one of a kind man and he will be badly missed by his family.


  • Celebration of Life

    Thursday, September 17, 2020


EmRance "Em" LaVern Berger

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mikki Hittner

August 26, 2020

I just heard about Em's passing. I am so sorry to hear. He was always so fun to be with and such a great friend to my Papa. Sending you my love.

Learn more about the Berger name