Some remember Walter “Bus” Bergman for his many contributions to sports across Colorado over the course of more than half a century. And some remember him for his valor during World War II, when he earned the Bronze Star for heroism during the Battle of Okinawa as a Marine major. Bergman died yesterday at the age of 89, leaving behind a loving family and a trail of people who have nothing but kind words for the man. Grand Junction’s Daily Sentinel notes that Bergman is among a small group of people responsible for bringing the Junior College World Series to Grand Junction in 1959, an annual event the city continues to host. He was the director of tournament play when the event began, a position his son, Walter Junior, now holds. The two are the only father-son duo in the Junior College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, one of six halls of fame in which Bergman’s name is included among the honorees. The others are the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and the halls of fame at Mesa State College, Fort Lewis College, Colorado State University, and Denver’s North High School.
According to The Denver Post, Bergman was a star three-sport athlete at North and went on to earn letters at Colorado A&M (now CSU) in football, baseball, and basketball. He then became a stellar two-sport coach at Mesa State, compiling a 102-63-9 record in football with three conference championships and a 378-201 record as a baseball coach, earning 20 league titles. Bergman is survived by his wife, Elinor; two daughters, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton (also a U.S. Senate candidate) and Judy Black; his son, Walter; six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and his half-brother.