ALAMOSA— Farris James Bervig, resident of Alamosa, Colorado since 1974, who served simultaneously as a business manager/owner and finally, beloved mayor of Alamosa, where he honorably served for nearly a quarter of a century, has died after a long and courageous battle with liver disease. Dying on Oct. 27, 2018, he was one month shy of his 83rd birthday.
Widely renowned and respected as a nonpartisan peacemaker with a service-oriented philosophy, Farris Bervig owned and operated Bervig’s True Value Hardware store in Alamosa for many years. Whether his customers were looking for hard-to-find parts for a home project or a practical gift, Farris’s warm smile and good-natured, friendly temperament drew people in even after the big-box retailers began to enter the market.
Born the eldest of three boys to Jim and Florence Bervig on Nov. 27, 1935 in Ambrose, ND, Farris spent his early childhood in Fortuna, ND, and in 1945 moved to Williston, an agricultural community located in the upper end of the Lake Sakakawea reservoir.
Farris’s affinity for retail was first sparked when Sandvick’s Hardware store defied the law and hired the eager 13-year-old. While in high school, Bervig played in the band and served as photographer for the school newspaper, in addition to working as a staff photographer for The Williston Herald, the local paper that covered northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana. While serving in that capacity, he had the opportunity to cover the visit of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Farris met his beloved wife Shirley when they were both 11 at a small Sunday School class at the First Baptist Church in Williston. Though Shirley was initially suspicious of the oldest of the “infamous Bervig boys,” Farris and Shirley nevertheless forged a longtime friendship and eventually began dating as juniors in high school. Their romance flourished while driving around town in his dad’s Mercury, socializing at the Baptist Youth Fellowship and stealing an occasional kiss in his photography dark room.
Upon returning from Sioux Falls Bible College in 1955, Farris and Shirley were married on Aug. 14, 1955 at First Baptist Williston, embarking on a 63-year wedded union. The couple would eventually be blessed with six children, 18 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren with two more on the way.
In 1955, Farris joined the JC Penney Company as a management trainee in the Williston, ND store. Subsequent promotions took the Bervigs to Casper, Salt Lake City, Denver, Grand Junction and Alamosa. A career highlight included receiving the President’s Cup multiple times, Penney’s acknowledgement of management excellence and corporate performance. After serving 25 years with Penney’s his desire to stay in Alamosa, the community he loved, motived him to partner with Harold Rominger to open a True Value Hardware in Alamosa in 1980.
In the mid 80s, several local businessmen encouraged Farris to run for mayor. For the next 24 years, Bervig faithfully served in this role, navigating a series of civic issues with confidence, compassion and fairness and was reelected several times without opposition. Locally, he was known for his graciousness and generosity, regularly helping employees in their time of need or purchasing a breakfast for someone struggling.
Farris leaves a legacy of serving the community through his business and mayoral politics but most importantly through his magnificent love for Jesus Christ, his heart for sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible, and his loving and unwavering commitment to his family. His passing marks the end of an era and his Godly servant leadership will be sorely missed. We mourn and grieve his death but look forward to seeing him again in Heaven.
Farris is survived by his wife, Shirley; sons Royce (Shawn), Greg (Cindy), David (Laura), Bryce (Kristi) and daughters Lorena (Kent) and Breta (John); grandchildren Zachary, Jacob, Rachel, David, Philip, Stacy, Austin, Raegan, Scott, Chad, Andrew, Hannah, Brandon, Colin, Baylee, Brooke, Brianna and Creed and great grandchildren, Alexis, Colton, Matthew, Bradley, Clayton, Claire, Ian, Grey, Olivia, Ava, Isla, Cora Mae, Lucy, Liam, Kinsley, Cohen, Mason and Cameron.
A celebration of a life well lived will be held on Friday, Nov. 2 at 10 a.m. at Living Water Bible Fellowship. There will be a public viewing at Rogers Family Mortuary on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. Contributions are suggested to the St. Labre Indian School and may be made in care of the funeral home office. To express condolences, please visit www.rogersfunerals.com
Rogers Family Mortuary in Alamosa is in care of the arrangements.