Little gifts leave lasting legacy
January 2, 2020 | View PDF
Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press
There are so many ways that people can leave their mark on the world. Some write great novels, or paint masterpieces, and some leave their mark by their good deeds. Walter Bergen combined these traits, leaving behind 20 masterpieces that will leave his legacy for the children of Shafter.
Bergen passed away recently at age 86. He was born in a house off of Sullivan Road and Enos Lane. Bergen went through Shafter schools and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
He worked at a variety of places, mainly in the tractor sales industry, retiring as sales manager for B.W. Implement Co. in Buttonwillow.
Bergen was known as a man who loved God and enjoyed serving his church, including being a deacon, church moderator, on the fest committee, including providing coffee and donuts for fellowship before services.
Upon retirement, Bergen returned to his love for woodworking, building furniture for family. Bergen then started building Little Free Libraries for the community of Shafter. Bergen built 20 libraries that dot the Shafter landscape.
David Franz, director of the Education Project for Shafter, knew him well. "Walt's gift of the Little Libraries has brought books to hundreds of children in Shafter. I remember suggesting that we talk about reimbursing him for some of the money he was spending on materials, and he would have none of it. He was a very generous man."
Bergen touched many lives that have used the libraries and also those who have taught those children, letting the love of reading enrich those lives.
Melissa Bergen told of the legacy left by Walter also. She said that Bergen built over half of the libraries in Shafter and said that his willingness to share his gift of carpentry with our community is such an inspiration. "Who knew that a woodworker could contribute so heavily to literacy efforts in Shafter?"
Samples of his work can be seen at City Hall in Shafter, as well as at Grimmway Academy and at the Shafter Learning Center. Bergen added, "Walt built our family's Little Free Library about four years ago. It has helped us share our love of reading with our neighbors and meet so many wonderful Shafter residents. This simple little box in front of our house has enriched our lives in ways too numerous to count. Walt's skilled hands have changed the literary landscape of Shafter. We are so thankful for the book sharing legacy that he leaves behind."