Southern California Builder Karl O. Bergheer Dies in Morro Bay
Prominent West Coast home builder Karl Otto Bergheer died of lung cancer in Morro Bay, Calif., on July 5 at the age of 83.
Bergheer built many residential communities in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii for more than three decades.
A highly engaged member of NAHB from the 1970s through the 1990s, he served as chairman of the Resolutions Committee and as a member of the Executive, Budget and Federal Government Affairs committees. In 1997, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Building Industry Association of Southern California.
Bergheer was born in Stockton, Calif., and spent his early years in China and Germany, returning to the U.S. as a resident of Pasadena and Altadena, Calif. He joined the U.S. Merchant Marines in the summer of 1943 at the age of 17 and worked his way from able-bodied seaman up through the ranks, ultimately earning his Master Mariner Pilot’s License, Captain of any vessel on any sea. He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and was proud to serve his country during World War II and in Korea and Vietnam.
“We ran at night blacked out and constantly were on the lookout for Japanese and German submarines,” he wrote recently, recounting his World War II experiences. “We stood sunrise and sunset watches with the Navy Armed Guard, manning the guns and with the lifeboats swung out and ready for immediate lowering, in case of being torpedoed.
“Sometimes on extra long voyages we ran out of fresh food. As a hungry and growing 18 year old, that I can and do still remember vividly. We were in Sydney when the Germans surrendered — Wow, what a celebration! — and then again when the Japanese threw in the towel.”
Burgheer was an avid sailor and skippered a succession of fine boats with great skill, including many voyages along the California coast, Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii and Tahiti.
He is survived by his daughters Derith Lounsbury and Karli Smallwood of Maui, and Maria Moynier of Cambria, Calif.; several grandchildren; brother Roland Oliver Bergheer, of Las Vegas; and his beloved companion Joy B. Heisig, of Cambria. His ashes were to be buried at sea in a private memorial service.