Dear Members of the Saint Mary's College Community,
It is with sadness that I inform you of the passing of a long-time supporter and Regent of the College, G. Joseph Bertain ’51. Joe served with distinction on the Board of Regents from 1980 until 2001. The Bertain family spans four generations at Saint Mary’s College. Joe’s father, George J. Bertain ’23, provided the seedlings for Brother “White” Leo to plant redwood trees that would eventually encircle the breathtaking Redwood Grove Amphitheatre. Aside from being a respite for students seeking a natural hideaway, the Bertain Grove is a favorite gathering spot for concerts, dramatic productions, impromptu picnics and social events.
Joe was one of five brothers to attend Saint Mary’s College (four attended Christian Brothers High School). Brothers Richard ’51, Tomas ’59, Leonard ’66 and William ’69 all lived the Gael experience. Joe’s beloved son, Joseph F. Jr., graduated in 1981. Nieces include Alisa Bertain ’86 (15 years Los Angeles alumni chapter president), Yvonne Daggett Murphy ’86, and Kathleen Canty Brown ’88. His cousin, Timothy Canty ’62, and nephew, Matthew Daggett ’91, also hail from Saint Mary’s. The fourth generation of Bertain Gaels includes Richard’s grandsons: Lucas Nemeth ’14 and Jonathan Bertain ’07.
Joe took on leadership roles early and often. He served as student body president and social chairman and played a role in numerous clubs. Joe was remarkable in that he continued to volunteer for the College immediately after he graduated. Besides serving on the Board of Regents, he also served as one of the first members of the President’s donor club.
What distinguished Joe was his amazing ability to serve as an ambassador for Saint Mary’s. As a successful attorney, who served twice on the National Advisory Board on International Education, he had the right contacts in academia. He also served as assistant United States attorney for Northern California. He and his late wife, Bernardine, greeted friends and alumni at countless Gael activities. Joe’s greatest ambassadorial role was to welcome executives at the College’s annual Executive Symposium, whose speakers included Ronald Reagan, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Eisner, Dick Cheney, Charles Schwab and many others. Joe also recommended the College to countless prospective students over his many years as a graduate.
A rosary service will be held on November 23 at 7 p.m. at McAvoy and O'Hara on Geary Boulevard at 10th Avenue in San Francisco, with visitation starting at 5:30 p.m.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be November 24 at 10 a.m. at St. Cecelia's Church, Vicente at 17th Avenue in San Francisco. Internment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, followed by a gathering at the Olympic Club.
In Saint La Salle,
Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC President
Read his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle.