City of Yelm names new street after longtime teacher, historian Ed Bergh
By Daniel Warn / For Nisqually Valley News
The City of Yelm has named a new street in honor of history professor and Yelm historian Ed Bergh, who died in 2017 of a chordoma brain tumor.
The street, Bergh Court Southeast, is off Mill Road, just past Cochrane Memorial Park, where the Meadows at Mill Pond and Vista at Mill Pond developments will be built.
One of Yelm’s long-standing precedents is to name some of its new streets after historical figures in the city, said Yelm director of public services Cody Colt.
“Ed Bergh, he’s not historic in what most people would consider in the sense of how long he (lived), but he had a very big impact in the history of Yelm,” Colt said. , referring to Bergh’s 42-year teaching career. “Being a teacher for as long as he was and the students he mentored and the teachers he mentored and the people he mentored – as well as the chronicles of history he had the used to write for the (Nisqually Valley News) – had a huge impact on Yelm. ”
The city decided Bergh Court would be a fitting tribute to one of the historical figures who made Yelm what it is today, Colt said.
Bergh retired from Yelm High School in November 2016.
In 2012, Bergh received the Washington Civic Educator of the Year award from the state legislature. In 2014, he received the National History Teacher of the Year award from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He has also won several other awards, including District Teacher of the Year.
Bergh’s passion for history has spread beyond the classroom.
He created a website about the history of Yelm, which included saved articles as well as content written by himself and a few select students. He wrote a book-length treatise on 19th-century Yelm resident JC Conine just for the fun of it, according to previous reports from Nisqually Valley News. He also wrote a humorous piece called “Write Back Soon (WBS): The Demise of the Art of Passing Notes”. The latter was based on the many handwritten notes he discovered in his class over the years. He changed the names, but not the grammar.
Bergh’s literary talents were exploited by the Nisqually Valley News, and four years before his death he began writing a weekly column on Yelm’s history for the newspaper.
Bergh had a personal impact on Colt’s life.
“He was my teacher,” Colt said. “I took ‘Current Global Issues’ with him in high school just as 9/11 happened. And it was a very tumultuous time in America, and having him there to walk our class through this and talk about what was happening and why these things were happening on 9/11 throughout this school year was huge. I took this with me when I joined the army and I always remembered it.
When Colt began a career teaching social studies, he often wondered how Bergh would have approached a subject, and was even mentored by the man, he said.
“I even had a chance when I came back and taught in 2015 to work with him and observe his class as a student teacher,” Colt said. “I was able to chat with him about my life, and he was extremely impactful, and everyone had a story that dealt with Mr. Bergh exactly like that.”
Bergh may be remembered for his legacy of teaching generations of Yelm students the importance of remembering the past and learning from it, Colt said.
“I can guarantee you that you can call anybody who’s ever had it (as a teacher) and they’d have a story that Bergh helped and guided them,” Colt said.
The city plans to continually recognize others who have made significant contributions to Yelm.
“I think you’re going to see a lot more because we have so many developments in town,” Colt said. “We have the opportunity to recognize important historical figures in Yelm’s history and you are going to see more of them. Bergh is just one of those we wanted to honor.