Word has been received of the homegoing of Charles “Fred” Berkemer in the Whittier, California, area on February 2, 2009. Via Pastor Richard Todd of the Whittier Community Grace Brethren Church, the family has provided the following information.
Charles Berkemer (Fred) was born December 22, 1919, in Nebraska. His mother died a few weeks after his birth, and he was relocated to Long Beach, California, where he was raised by an aunt and uncle.
Berkemer attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, graduating in 1938. He married Margaret Sullans on May 29, 1941. Fred and Margaret had two daughters: Sharon (1946, now deceased) and Karen (1961). Fred joined the U.S. Navy in 1942, and served on the USS Indiana during World War II.
Fred and Margaret began attending a Baptist church because they needed a pastor to perform funerals for Margaret’s parents. Fred and Margaret both received Jesus Christ as Savior as a result of this church’s ministry.
As time passed, Fred sensed God calling him into the ministry. He attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) and worked at a dairy to support his family, graduating in 1959. During their BIOLA days Fred and Margaret attended the North Long Beach Brethren Church. Fred’s first pastorate was Berean Baptist Church in Los Olives, California, in 1960. In 1966 they moved to South Pasadena, where Fred became pastor of the Grace Brethren Church.
In the spring of 1970 Fred sensed God was directing him to a new ministry, and he became manager of the Berean Christian Store in Sacramento, California. Margaret was director of the Sunday School department and they worshiped at the Grace Brethren Church of Sacramento where Richard Cron was pastor.
The store did well and Fred was asked to move to Whittier, California, in 1974 to manage a larger store. Fred and Margaret’s desire was to serve the church in whatever capacity was needed, including Sunday School curriculum, VBS curriculum, communion needs, or helping a believer find just the right Bible or book. They attended Community Grace Brethren Church and Creek Park Brethren Church during their work with Berean.
Fred retired from the Whitter Berean Christian Store in 1987. In retirement, he became the chaplain of the USS Indiana reunion commimttee. He was an elder in their church. He and Margaret traveled, visiting their grandchildren in Georgia and making international trips to Jordan and England.
Fred passed away February 2, 2009. He was known for his content spirit in his later years. Even though his mind was slipping, his prayers connected him and others with his Lord.