Delmer Berg of Columbia, the last known survivor among the Americans who fought fascists in 1930s Spain, died Sunday at his home. He was 100.
Mr. Berg, who also was active in farm labor and other causes in the Modesto area, was among about 2,800 members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. They sought to defend an elected leftist government from a revolt led by Gen. Francisco Franco.
“I was a worker,” Berg told The Modesto Bee in a November interview. “I was a farmer. I was in support of the Spanish working people, and I wanted to go to Spain to help them.”
Mr. Berg was wounded in a bombing at a monastery where he was quartered and left Spain after several months. The conflict was a prelude to World War II and led to a Franco dictatorship that lasted until 1975.
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I was in support of the Spanish working people, and I wanted to go to Spain to help them.
Delmer Berg, fighter against fascism
Mr. Berg was born in Anaheim on Dec. 20, 1915, and spent part of his childhood on a farm near Manteca. He later lived in Modesto, where he was the only white member of the local chapter of the NAACP. He worked on housing discrimination and other issues and was a communist most of his life, drawing inquiries from the FBI from time to time.
“Here’s a man who had this tremendously long life and from a young age became politically active,” friend Pat Cervelli said Tuesday. She knew Mr. Berg since the 1980s, when she helped found the Mother Lode Women’s Center.
Mr. Berg served in the U.S. military twice – in the National Guard before Spain and in the East Indies during World War II. He later worked as a landscaper and then a stonemason. He and his late wife, June, built a house of native stone and reused lumber north of Columbia.
During his long retirement in Tuolumne County, Mr. Berg remained an activist against nuclear weapons, U.S. involvement in Central America and many other causes. He returned to Spain and monitored an election in Namibia.
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, based in New York City, has kept track of the veterans. Berg became the last known survivor after the 2014 death of John Hovan in Rhode Island.
Services for Mr. Berg are pending through Terzich & Wilson Funeral Home in Sonora.
John Holland: 209-578-2385