Jean Bergman grew up on a farm near Tulare, Calif., in a Christian home. Her parents and four brothers raised alfalfa and grains before becoming dairy farmers and delivering milk. Jean still remembers their slogan: “The quality goes in before the cap goes on.”
Concerned about the education of their children, Jean’s parents donated two acres for a two-room schoolhouse. As a child, she spent eight years there. Later Jean returned to teach and served as principal for several years until the rural school closed. The historic building survives as a museum in Tulare County’s Mooney Grove Park.
Education is important in her family, and Jean studied at Biola and Wheaton College and earned a teaching credential at La Verne College. For 31 years, she taught third grade in Tulare, retiring in 1971. “I’ve been retired longer than I taught,” she says.
Jean learned about Westmont when her late brother Luther ’39 attended. He met his wife, Esther Peterson Bergman ’39, there, and other relatives followed. Jean has 15 nieces and nephews; seven went to Westmont (Karen Franklin ’59, David ’60, Ted ’60, Ruth White ’62, Edith Burckhardt ’66, John ’67 and Sue De Vries ’71) as did three of their spouses (Harold Franklin ’59, Gwen Smith Bergman ’60 and Jim De Vries ’70). The third generation includes two great nieces (Roxanne Jantzen ’81 and Deborah Jensen ’89) and one spouse (Gordon Jantzen ’83).
Jean is proud that 15 members of her family have attended Westmont. “I believe so strongly in Christian education,” she says. When she sold some land she inherited from her parents, she donated half the proceeds to organizations she supports, including Westmont.
Through a charitable remainder trust with Westmont, Jean receives income during her lifetime. “I have always believed in tithing,” she says. “I know Westmont will make good use of the funds when I am gone.”
At 96, Jean has lost her eyesight but not her love for God. “The Lord has given me a very good life with many wonderful trips and experiences,” she says. “I rejoice in his constant care.”
She is also grateful for nephews and nieces who visit often and help manage her affairs. “It’s a blessing to have a close and loving family who know the Lord,” she says.