Remembering William S. Bergman 1940 – 2006

William S. Bergman
1940 – 2006

On June 15, 2006, OPPAA lost it’s Executive Vice President of the past 20 years, Bill Bergman. Not only had he led the organization from it’s humble beginnings to become the true “Voice of the Aftermarket” – but he had also become “friend” to many whose lives he touched.

Below, members of OPPAA’s Senior Advisory Council share some of their memories of the past 20 years with Bill Bergman.

“The most memorable time that I enjoyed with Bill was at our annual meeting in 1997 in Quebec City. Bill was a big man, but there was just someting about seeing him with all those extra clothes and coats on that made him appear bigger than life. Bill was a real trooper, trying about anything the group was game for, and seeing Bill ride the snowmobile in 0 degree temperatures was very entertaining. Bill was well traveled and familiar with many customs no matter where we traveled during our meetings. I can still vividly see Bill in his Bermuda attire of shorts and knee-high formal socks during our annual meeting in Bermuda! Bill’s interest in OPPAA went far beyond a business relationship. There were many close friendships made over 20 years, and it was evident that Bill enjoyed being in the company of the OPPAA family. Bill will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on through OPPAA and his friendships for a long time.”

“One of my favorite memories of Bill Bergman was watching him ‘discuss’ in a very reasonable way why the conservative members of OPPAA were wrong. I don’t think he changed many minds, but he sure tried in such a very nice way.

Bill really knew fine restaurants in Washington. One time he took us all to a wonderful Chinese restaurant and I knew we were in deep trouble when I noticed his name engraved on all our chopsticks. But we all had a great time as we always did with Bill.

Bill was such an optimist, he never seemed to be discouraged even through the difficult early years of OPPAA. His leadership and personality kept us all going.

Our lives are all a little richer for knowing Bill Bergman.”

bergman-sandiego-sm Bill Bergman & Deborah Beck at San Diego Annual Meeting, February, 2006.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Bill Bergman. He was standing next to Bill Bethel at my first OPPAA meeting in Miami Beach. They quickly descended on me and began to strongly persuade me to join OPPAA. Talk about being ‘leaned on’!

I later realized that Bill Bergman’s size was needed to contain his big heart.

How difficult it must have been establishing an organization and leading a group of people who owned or managed their own businesses and were used to doing whatever they wanted their own way. Then add the fact that many were competitors who understandably were protecting their own company’s best interests. I expect very few of us truly understood the difficulty of Bill’s job. And a part-time job at that. But what a job Bill did.

To be sure, as I progressed through OPPAA’s Board of Directors, my vision and goals for OPPAA occasionally differed with Bill’s. Through the years I had many pointed questions and comments. But he answered my questions and acknowledged my comments with class and dignity and in a manner that I couldn’t help but admire. I may still have disagreed with him, but we agreed to disagree, and we became friends.

One thing we agreed on, however, was politics. Despite our left-leaning tendencies, I was always amazed at how totally unbiased his Washington Updates were. I felt I had to take it upon myself to lob Bill a loaded question now and then and watch him unleash his true political colors. Blast away, Bill, blast away. It’s always nice to see a big man take up for the little guy.”

“Bill will be missed by all as he was the driving force for OPPAA to stay relevant over the past 20 years. Bill had a keen sense of what the organization needed to continue to provide value to the members as well as to the industry that the members served.

Bill’s involvment on the Washington scene was invaluable to the organization. He had insight into areas that not too many people had access to, and for that the organization benefited greatly. Bill was also a very humble person and treated each and every member of the organization with the utmost respect.

Bill will be missed by all that he came into contact with.”

“I mostly knew Bill Bergman on a professional level, but most of all I was proud to call him my friend. Bill was dedicated to the OPPAA and under his leadership, saw this association evolve into the second longest continuous operating national association in the Power Equipment industry. I always looked forward to Bill’s Washington Update at OPPAA’s annual meeting, he was always in touch with the Beltway activities. Bill was a true professional in his field and will sorely be missed by many and the OPPAA.”

“What stands out with me was Bill’s unflappability. Even though we could disagree greatly on some issues, Bill always showed civility with me. I think Bill brought continuity to OPPAA, and that showed in our longstanding relationship. I appreciated Bill’s candidness.”