THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Berge Memorial 189 Mile Bike Ride
Issue Date: August 30, 2019
How do you pay tribute to a remarkable man such as Kurt Berge? You ride a bicycle like he did.
Six members of the Kurt Berge family rode their bicycles for three days covering 189 miles from Painesdale, Mich. to Menominee in honor of Kurt who was "just 3 weeks shy' of turning 98 years old when he passed away Oct. 10, 2018. The Kurt Berge Memorial Bike Ride commemorated Kurt's 500-mile bike ride from his hometown of "Downtown Painesdale' in Michigan's Upper Peninsula's Copper Country to Detroit, MI in October 1940 at age 19. There were few jobs in Painesdale, but Kurt knew his grandmother had friends he could connect with in Detroit and went there to look for work.
Leaving at 3 am during a thunderstorm with lightening bolts illuminating his path, Kurt rode a 1-speed bicycle and ate shredded coconut. He stopped in Menominee, MI to see Arlene Sieman who he later married, then took The Ann Arbor Ferry to Frankfort, Mich. where he continued his journey to Detroit, spending one night in an empty jail cell near Lansing, like the CCC boys from Camp Wells would do when spending overnight in Menominee.
On Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, after months of planning and training, six riders and four support team members left the site of Kurt's childhood home in "Downtown' Painesdale and rode south, staying overnight in Crystal Falls, Mich. and Pembine, arriving in Menominee on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 25. Several family members and friends were there to greet the riders at Marmen Computing on 6th Avenue, the previous site of the U.S. Post Office where Kurt rode his bike to work. From there, the group rode the last two miles to the Kurt and Arlene Berge homestead on 28th Avenue to celebrate the finale of The Kurt Berge Memorial Bike Ride with a Pie and Ice Cream Social.
The six riders who covered the entire distance were Bob Fay, 63 (son-in-law, married to Kurt's daughter Ruth); Michael Berge, 43 (grandson, son of Kurt's son Will); Ethan Dercks, 19 (great grandson, Michael's son); Rick Berge, 44 (grandson, son of Kurt's son Will); Lynda Gail Berge Disser, 50 (granddaughter, daughter of Kurt's son Tom); and Dennis Disser, 56 (Lynda's husband).
The Support Team: Will Berge, his wife Maria Berge, Deb Rasner (Rick's fiancé), and Belle (Rick's daughter).