James R. Bergdahl, of Sarasota, Florida, formerly of Falls Church, Virginia, died on Monday, June 24, 2019, in Sarasota Memorial Hospital after a long illness. He was 80.
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He was the beloved ballroom dance partner of Victoria (Rembock) Chapman for 20 years and her husband for the last seven of those years.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Jim was the son of the late Evert R. Bergdahl, Sr. and Alice Ann (Lingenfelder) Bergdahl.
As a young boy, he worked as a newspaper boy and sold Christmas trees on Chicago street corners. Jim was a 1960 graduate of the Business School at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society and the Lambda Chi Alpha social fraternity.
Mr. Bergdahl was employed by the U.S. Federal Government for 52 years. He began work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago in 1960. He then joined the General Services Administration in 1965, initially, in San Francisco and then in Washington, D.C., following his graduation from the Federal Executive Institute at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1970.
The highlight of Jim’s career came in 1995 when the new Public Building Service was rolled out. He was part of the Courthouse Management Group, formed to provide oversight, program management, and budgeting for the largest Federal courthouse construction program in the nation’s history. As a senior member of the group, Jim provided extensive knowledge and expertise on many aspects of the courthouse program, working with Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Judiciary, and regional GSA offices to assure that the ambitious program succeeded.
In recognition of his stellar career and many achievements, Jim received the GSA Public Building Services Commissioners Award for 52 years of Excellent Service in December of 2011, when he retired.
In January 2012, Jim received a letter from President Barack Obama, who joined in celebrating Jim’s exemplary 52-year career helping the Federal Government fulfill its obligation to the American people.
Outside of work in his later years, Jim enjoyed a shared love of ballroom dance with Victoria. In 2003 they were honored to be chosen as Specialty Hip Hop Dancers in the movie “Head of State,” starring Chris Rock, who also wrote and produced the movie.
Jim is survived by his son, Jeffrey S. Bergdahl, of San Diego, California, and his daughter, the Rev. Julie B. Bergdahl, of Quakertown, Pennsylvania. He coached many of their athletic teams, assisted with their high school track meets, and provided a solid foundation for them to launch their adult lives. When asked what he was most proud of in his life, Jim told his daughter, “you two kids.”
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by several cousins and a niece and nephew, as well as a former spouse, Carol Bergdahl. He was also the cherished step-dad to Victoria’s three grown sons, Joseph P. Calvert, Donald A. Calvert, and Roland M. Calvert, and step-granddad to Joseph’s daughters, Anya, Jaiden, and Jordyn, and Roland’s daughters, Madison and Kaitlyn.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Evert R. Bergdahl, Jr., and a nephew, Eric Bergdahl.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 1545 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA 22102. A reception follows.
Memorial donations may be made in Mr. Bergdahl’s name to the American Lung Association National Office, 55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150, Chicago IL 60601 or to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, 700 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230.