Distinguished Ambassador

Longtime Saint Mary’s College supporter G. Joseph Bertain died on November 16, 2012.

Bertain was born in Scotia, Calif., on March 9, 1929, the oldest of ten children. A 1947 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, he played football at Saint Mary’s and served as student body president. He went on to study law at Catholic University of America, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review.  He practiced law for more than 45 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California. He served for more than 20 years on the Saint Mary’s College’s Board of Regents.

Bertain was among four generations of the Bertain family who attended Saint Mary’s. His father, George J. Bertain ’23, provided the seedlings for Brother “White” Leo to plant redwood trees that would eventually encircle the Redwood Grove Amphitheatre. Bertain was one of five brothers to attend Saint Mary’s. Richard ’51, Tomas ’59, Leonard ’66 and William ’69 all became Gaels. Joe’s son, Joseph F. Jr., graduated in 1981. Nieces include Alisa Bertain ’86, Yvonne Daggett Murphy ’86 and Kathleen Canty Brown ’88. His cousin, Timothy Canty ’62, and nephew, Matthew Daggett ’91, attended Saint Mary’s. The fourth generation of Bertain Gaels includes Richard’s grandsons: Lucas Nemeth ’14 and Jonathan Bertain ’07.

“What distinguished Joe was his amazing ability to serve as an ambassador for Saint Mary’s,” said Brother President Ronald Gallagher. “He and his late wife, Bernardine, greeted friends and alumni at countless Gael activities.” One of his most notable ambassadorial roles, Brother Ron noted, was welcoming executives at the College’s annual Executive Symposium, whose speakers included Ronald Reagan, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Eisner, Dick Cheney, Charles Schwab and many others. And over the years, he recommended the College to countless prospective students.

G. Joseph Bertain