Berga Davids Comer

Berga Davids, the daughter of William and Margaret Davids, was born in the town of Red Springs. She was named after her sister Thelma’s best friend, Berga, and her mother, Margaret, and a friend of her mother’s who insisted she be named Josephine. She had ten sisters and brothers: Alice, Elmer, Alfred, James, Thelma, Albert, Dudley, Eda, Kenneth, and Norma (Nim). Nim lives in Eufaula, Oklahoma. 

She remembers once when she was very young that she was sick. Her grandfather, Jonas Davids, came to visit. He and her father sat in the living room talking in the Mohican language. She cried, "Grandpa, I thought you came to see me." So they both came and sat in her room and continued speaking in the Mohican language. She wishes today that she could have learned it.

Her parents lived across the road from the Lutheran Indian Mission, so she attended the Mission School where she said she had great fun because there were many kids to play with and she liked every teacher. Some of her best friends were Leo Maxon, Reggie Miller, Clarence Chicks, Dale Miller and Wanda Miller. 

Berga attended high school in Gresham for two years, walking the three miles each way every day unless they were lucky enough to catch a ride. Gresham was a two- year high school at that time. After her father, William Clark Davids, went to the Spirit World, Berga went to Milwaukee where she did housework and took care of kids for a family in Whitefish Bay for room and board and five dollars a week. There she finished high school.

Berga wanted to be a Public Health nurse. She took correspondence courses and attended night school. She applied for a scholarship and started nurses training in August, but the grant didn’t arrive until later in October. A lady friend helped her through school at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee, paid for her tuition, bought her books and gave her $12.00 a month. She told Berga she could pay her back sometime if she wished.

Berga graduated from Columbia School of Nursing  and continued working there for $75 a month. It was a tradition at Columbia Hospital that, when a student graduated, her blue uniform was ripped off her. We still have pictures of her standing on the roof of the hospital in her shredded garment. Although Berga continued working at Columbia, she had to take postgraduate courses to keep up her license.

The State of Wisconsin approached her with the idea of working as a nurse on the Menominee Reservation. She needed Public Health Education courses but the State paid for that education when she attended the University of Minnesota. It was there that a young man by the name of James Comer was drawn to this woman who always wore a red rose in her hair. Jim, a teacher, was taking courses in environmental education.

Berga returned to the Menominee Reservation and Jimmy went back to Kansas, but he came to visit her in Wisconsin and eventually they married. She had made a commitment to spend two years on the Menominee Reservation, but she was able to complete that commitment in the state of Washington where Jimmy had a job and was studying.

When Jimmy was granted his degree, they returned to Kansas. There they had two children, Steve and Phillip. She has four grandchildren. Berga and Jimmy raised their family in the small town of McCune, Kansas.

Berga had a job at the College in Pittsburgh, Kansas. She had to attend meetings in various places and in all seasons of the year. One winter she was on the road driving home from a meeting in Wichita during a hard winter storm. While she was plowing through snow up to the hubcaps, barely able to see the road, she was thinking of her family at home and how worried they must be about her. When she finally arrived late after midnight, the lights were out and everyone was asleep. She was quite provoked and woke Jimmy to ask, "Weren’t you worried?" He answered, "No, why should I be? You know how to drive, don’t you?"

Jimmy died several years ago, but Berga still lives in McCune in her house, which is large enough to sleep the carloads of relatives who visit her. She is especially proud of and enjoys being a mother and grandmother. In fact, Berga seems to enjoy life. She enjoys Bible study, swimming, walks, and her pets, a dog and two cats. She also likes to travel. She said that when she attended the Mission School, learning Geography was hard. She couldn’t comprehend the world, but her understanding has now broadened. Since 1971 she has traveled to Hawaii (on a Nurses’ trip), to Alaska on a cruise ship, to Russia with a friend and to England, France, Germany and Italy. (On one of these European trips, she remembers that she was always so tired. Later she discovered that she has the disease called lupus.) On one of her travels with her son Steve and his wife Kate, they attended the Passion Play at Oberammergau. She also spent a few minutes in an airport in Finland. Her latest two trips overseas were to Greece and Turkey. She says that it is amazing how her world has expanded.

Berga has always been a firm Lutheran. She believes that the Ten Commandments give people something to guide their lives. She remembers though that in the old days, ministers and their religion were rather rigid, but now ministers are human beings; they laugh.

Recently Berga bought a new riding mower. She donned her lawn-mowing outfit, mounted the mower, started the engine and circled around the yard. Then she noticed the grass was still about six inches high. She decided something was wrong with the mower and went to bed. She woke up suddenly in the middle of the night with the realization that she had never let the mower blade down. "Oh, well," she thought to herself, "I just had a nice ride on my new kiddie car."

Recently Berga traveled with tribal members out east to a reburial ceremony, and she plans to go again on the trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts later this fall. When she has time, she also continues working on her memoirs.