Alan “Al” Berg, 73, of Freeport, died on July 28.
He was the beloved husband of the late Rita, loving father of Andrew, Matthew and Thomas and dear grandfather of Lincoln and Siena.
While Berg enjoyed a long career in law as he worked for the State Labor Relations Board for nearly 30 years, he is well remembered in the local community as the long-time volunteer coach for the Freeport High School basketball summer league team and former trustee for the Freeport Memorial Library.
“He was a volunteer dedicated to Freeport,” said Ernest Kight Jr., president of the Freeport School District Board of Education as he called for a moment of silence on behalf of Berg during a board meeting on July 29.
Berg has lived in Freeport for most of his life, having first moved there in 1951 as a boy and later settling there with a family of his own for the last 26 years.
After earning his degree in labor law from New York University, Berg started to play basketball and shortly after began coaching the high school summer league from 1973 to 2012.
Thomas said his father loved the sport because of the relationships it could build. He remembers mornings where Berg would invite the whole team over for breakfast.
Thomas said Berg came to love local sports as he cheered on Freeport High School’s basketball and football teams throughout the decades.
“I’d have dinners with him once a week, and he would always tell me about how the teams were doing and about players he thought were particularly good,” Thomas recalled. “I’d tell him, ‘I don’t know who these kids are,’ and he would just laugh and keep talking about the teams.”
Thomas added that Berg would spend his Saturdays streaming videos of his former players who went on to play in college or other leagues.
But sports were not Berg’s only passion. Friends and family remember him as an advocate for higher learning.
Mary Ellen Kahn, a long-time friend and neighbor, said Berg was always full of insight from local happenings to a national politics.
“Al had an encyclopedic knowledge of history, which was one of our shared interests,” Khan said.
Ellen Kelly, the Freeport Memorial Library Vice-President, and Ken Bellafiore, director of the library, added that Berg was a wealth of information and served as an important advocate of the library. Through the Hildegarde D. Becher Foundation, Berg and his family granted yearly funds to the library to help keep the classical music and the arts programs running.
“After his service as a library trustee from 1976-1981, he continued to find ways to quietly and generously promote and support the library as a vital center of the Freeport community,” Kelly said. “We were lucky to have him as an advocate for libraries.”
During the later years of his life, Berg continued to enjoy his days in Freeport, from cheering on the local teams to meeting up with friends at the Freeport Recreation Center.
“He really loved Freeport,” Thomas said. “He was all about loyalty to Freeport and a love of basketball.”