In memory of

John Robert Viereck, age 91, of Helena

March 19, 1924 – July 20, 2015

John R. Viereck, 91, died recently at Big Sky Healthcare in Helena. John moved to Helena from Long Beach, CA in May, 2003. He was born in the family home in Wilmington, CA.

His father, Henry Viereck, left Germany at the age of 14 and got his first job on a sailing ship as a cabin boy. John’s mother, Anna Louisa Green Viereck, was from Eau Claire, WI. His father settled in Los Angeles Harbor and became a longshoreman and cigar store owner. His mother’s family owned one of the first dairies in the harbor town of San Pedro, CA. There were eleven children in John’s family; nine survived infancy (Dorothy, Richard, Elsie, John, Thelma “Gertie,” Carl, Fred, Albert and Joan).

After graduating from Banning High School, Henry encouraged John to enlist in the Merchant Marines because John loved the ocean and Los Angeles Harbor. He made one trip up the Pacific Coast to the Columbia River and the Port of Portland. He was seasick the whole time; that ended his Merchant Marine career. John loved the harbor so much that he took his family to see whatever was in port in LA harbor at the time. In 1959, they saw Fulgencio Batista’s yacht in port. Batista’s dictatorship government had been over-thrown by Fidel Castro and Batista fled to the US from Cuba.

John enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served until 1945. He was a radioman and cryptographer for the Big Red One – the Army’s First Infantry Division, Antitank Company, 26th Infantry Regiment. He served in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, England, France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. He was awarded two Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge, Seven Battle Stars, the Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He served in seven campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, and spent a total of thirty-one months in Europe and Africa.

John married Virginia Davis Elliott in 1947; they divorced in 1959. John attended Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles. He worked as a truck driver, taxi driver and as a Zamboni operator. He was also a ham radio operator.

For most of the 1960s, Phyllis R. Carroll Reichert lived with John. In January, 1963 she gave birth to a son who was adopted immediately and was baptized Steven Karl Bergk.

Survivors include daughter, Fran Viereck, Helena; granddaughters Amy Helmen (Jim), Clatskanie, OR; Ashley Jones (Brett), Amsterdam, MT; son, Steven K. Bergk (Joy), La Mirada, CA; granddaughter Courtney Bergk and grandson Trevor Bergk both in California; five great-grandchildren, sister, Joan Viereck Johnson, Long Beach, CA and brother Carl Arthur Viereck, Carson, CA.

Deeply special thanks are extended to Dr. Will Snider who cared for John at his bedside. Family is especially grateful for the care John received from the VA clinic at Fort Harrison; Dr. Rosa Merino was instrumental in that care. John’s family is also grateful for the loving and professional care provided by Ron Glueckert, RN, at Big Sky Healthcare.

A committal shelter service will be held at the State Veteran’s Cemetery at Fort Harrison on Monday, July 27, 2015 at 11:00 am. Pastor Tom Banks will officiate. A luncheon will be held at VFW Post 10010, 113 West Main Street, East Helena immediately after. John had a great respect for the Women’s Auxiliary at Post 10010; he deeply appreciated the auxiliary’s nursing home commitment and thoughtful remembrance of veterans. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Women’s Auxiliary, VFW Post 10010, P.O.Box 183, East Helena, MT 59635-0183




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  1. Verna Waddington says:

    Prayers going up for you and your family.

  2. Jane Huff says:

    Fran, you’ve been a good and faithful daughter and no one could have done better for your dad. Love, Jane

  3. Fran OHara says:

    Fran – My thoughts are with you. Sorry for your loss.

    Fran OHara

  4. The Viereck Family says:

    We are sorry to hear about our brother & uncle.

    The Viereck Family

  5. Diana Hall says:

    Fran, My heart and thoughts go out to you. I pray the Lord puts His loving arms around you and give you strength and comfort. I know the time you’ve had with your Dad was precious! Blessings to you dear lady. Love Diana

  6. Kitty Cutting says:

    Fran and family,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. John was a cool guy. I wish I could have known him earlier. 🙂 Love, Kitty

  7. Alan Fauhl says:

    Fran, my condolences on the loss of your father. He was fortunate to have you there for him.

  8. Shari Hunter Brownlee says:

    Fran, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. You took such good care of your father and I remember how fondly you spoke of him during our empoyment at Dept. of Commerce. I didn’t realize he had passed until today, and I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner. Your dad’s obituary was beautiful and he lived a most extraordinary life! I know you’re grateful for the time you had with him and that you’ll miss him always.

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