Dieter Bergman – Our Industry Loses an Icon

By Ray Pritchard
IPC Executive Director Emeritus

Dieter Bergman was the most accomplished, productive, creative and cheerful human being I ever met.  Besides, “he was always fun to be with.”

DieterBergman2That’s saying a lot because for more than 40 years I was involved in organizing and managing a number of trade associations, including 35 years with IPC.  I worked with tens of thousands of interesting and capable people — but as talented and competent as many of them were — none compared to what became my great friend, and in many ways my partner, Dieter Bergman.

Dieter loved everything.   No matter what was going on, in his roles with IPC, or as an individual enjoying his family and friends.

In the IPC news release, John Mitchell, president of IPC said it well, “Dieter was an industry icon, pioneer and friend.”

I first met Dieter in 1962 when he joined IPC as the representative of Philco Ford.

In those days, more than 1,000 talented people would attend and participate in our comprehensive semi-annual technical programs and activities events.  Even as a first timer, Dieter stood out as a contributor and leader.   Within 12 years his leadership was recognized by his peers when he became the chairman of the IPC Technical Activities Executive Committee (TAEC).  This was and continues to be the highest office of all of the many volunteers who have contributed so much to IPC and to the various industries involved with IPC.

By 1974 with a small staff, IPC had grown significantly.  IPC was involved not only in comprehensive standards and technical programs, but also in market research and statistical programs, membership promotion, planning semi-annual meetings, communication and meetings with the IPC Board of Directors and communication with all members with a monthly IPC Technical Review.  IPC was also involved in interfacing with many government agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It was clear … IPC needed more staff.

Jim Swiggett who was then president of IPC invited me to meet with him at Photocircuits Corporation in Glen Cove Long Island, to talk about future programming.  In discussing our need for additional staff, we were concerned about the talent and attitude required to fit into the IPC Staff.  Jim said maybe we should look to our large and involved membership to see if such a person might be there.  He asked me if I could hire anyone from our IPC membership, who would it be.  I was a little surprised because I truly hadn’t thought about that specific question.   However, I didn’t hesitate; I said “Dieter Bergman.”

Jim said, “Call him,” and handed me the telephone.  The rest is history.

To sum up his contributions to IPC: By 1985 he was named the fourth member of the IPC Hall of Fame.

Dieter never felt that an objective could not be accomplished.  Once it was decided we had a good idea for a new program, there was very little that could hold him back.  The history of IPC is replete with new ideas and programs that Dieter provided his leadership, knowledge and charm to “make it happen.”  His history of accomplishments and awards would fill books.

Dieter traveled the world, and wherever he went, he made friends.  As mentioned above, Dieter loved everything.  As a world traveler he dined with a wide variety of IPC members in their various countries, with a wide assortment of esoteric foods.   There was nothing that Dieter would not eat…and relish.  (One of his favorites was fish eyeball soup).

As an indication of his unbelievable persistency, I recall a trip he had organized to present a workshop to IPC members in India.  Fortunately, Dieter showed up at O’Hare Airport many hours before flight time.  He presented his passport and tickets, but was told he needed a Visa.  He was dumbstruck, he had not been aware of that need.  Did this stop him….no!  He asked for the manager and was told no exception could be made.  He then asked how to get a Visa, and was told where to go, but he would need to bring his passport and a photo.  Dieter ran outside and went to the taxi stand at O’Hare.  He asked the driver to take him to a bus station downtown where he knew there was an automatic photo machine.  He told the driver to wait, got his photo, and then drove to the appropriate office that issued Visas.  Somehow, he convinced the people there that he absolutely had to have a Visa, got one, and taxied back to O’Hare in time to get on the plane.

But the story didn’t end there.  When he got to India, he had a problem with their local authorities, and was told that his paperwork was not sufficient and was instructed to return to the U.S. on the next flight.  Dieter refused to go.  He stayed the entire day continuing to pester their authorities, explaining that his trip was designed to enhance the technical knowledge of the Indian people.  They finally looked the other way and Dieter was on his way to make his presentation.

I and his thousands of friends are deeply shocked that Dieter is no longer with us.  IPC will miss the many new contributions that Dieter might have created and inspired.  But, mostly, Dieter will be missed as a personal friend to people throughout the world.

As John Mitchell said, we have lost an ICON.

2 Comments

  1. Bernie Kessler
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Somehow Dieter Bergman and past tense just don’t go together. The last time we were together was in Vegas — when I arrived without a room and moved in to his room with a roller bed. We had to walk down a long, long corridor and both had to stop a couple of times — legs, chest pains, whatever. We ate breakfast as we had done for 50 years of meetings and commented that the food hasn’t changed as much as we had. That was the last time we met.

    If I were a sculptor — a carver of statues — I know exactly how I would depict him. The image is so clear in my mind. He posed for it one day maybe 25-30 years ago while we were at an IPC session in San Francisco. A group of us (I think Gary Ferrari and Gene Weiner may have been there, not sure) had gone out for a snack and walked back to the hotel. We walked up a humbling hill — almost on all fours — and finally approached the entrance. At that point Dieter and I decided to race up the down-escalator. We raced down the length of the hallway and Dieter got to the escalator first and took off. I was about 4 stairs behind him. The trick is to go up 5 stairs for every 4 coming down and I was doing just that when I started to lose it. I was doing 4.5/4 and then just about 4/4. I was two steps from the top where Dieter had landed about 20 seconds before. Just as I felt I couldn’t do it and started to lose way Dieter reached out his hand and dragged me up the rest of the way. And that is the statue I see that marked Dieter wherever he went and whatever he did — his was the face with the smile — with his hand outstretched to drag us to the top.

    I wish I were a sculptor.

    Bernie Kessler
    First Chairman of the IPC TAEC
    1991 IPC Hall of Fame Award Winner

  2. bkesslerbka
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Somehow Dieter Bergman and past tense just don’t go together. The last time we were together was in Vegas — when I arrived without a room and moved in
    to his room with a roller bed. We had to walk down a long, long corridor and both had to stop a couple of times — legs, chest pains, whatever. We ate
    breakfast as we had done for 50 years of meetings and commented that the food hasn’t changed as much as we had. That was the last time we met.
    If I were a sculptor — a carver of statues — I know exactly how I would depict him. The image is so clear in my mind. He posed for it one day maybe 25-30 years ago while we were at an IPC session in San Francisco. A group of us (I think Gary Ferrara and Gene Weiner may have been there, not sure) had gone out for a snack and walked back to the hotel. We walked up a
    humbling hill — almost on all fours — and finally approached the entrance. At that point Dieter and I decided to race up the down-escalator. We raced down the length of the hallway and Dieter got to the escalator first and took off. I was about 4 stairs behind him. The trick is to go up 5 stairs for every 4 coming down and I was doing just that when I started to lose it. I was doing 4.5/4 and then just about 4/4. I was two steps from the top where Dieter had landed about 20 seconds before. Just as I felt I couldn’t do it and started to lose way Dieter reached out his hand and dragged me up the rest of the way. And that is the statue I see that marked Dieter wherever he went and whatever he did —- his was the face with the smile—- with his hand outstretched to drag us to the top. I wish I were a sculptor.
    Bernie Kesler


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