Minnehaha Academy Victim Ruth 'Dee Dee' Berg Remembered as Eternal Optimist

August 01, 2018 10:53 AM

Ruth "Dee Dee" Berg worked at Minnehaha Academy for 17 years.

The 47-year-old Berg was a receptionist. Over that time, she came to know thousands of students, staff and parents. On Sunday, many of them came back to the campus in Minneapolis to honor her life.


Berg, along with 81-year-old John Carlson, were killed Aug. 2 when a natural gas explosion caused a building to collapse on them. Carlson was a custodian. A third person, 26-year-old Bryan Duffey, was severely injured, required multiple surgeries including a leg amputation, and is still in the hospital. 

Mourners walking into the building on West River Parkway Sunday immediately noticed pictures of Berg they might not have seen before. The photos showed the many sides of Berg: she was a receptionist at Minnehaha Academy, but outside of school she was a mother to Brittany and a dog lover. She enjoyed riding horses and being outdoors, and she was an eternal optimist.

Berg doodled for fun and wrote affirmations, and many of each were on display Sunday, including one reading, "live in the moment."

Folks were encouraged to bring any photos with Berg in them and post them on a whiteboard along with a handwritten message.

Berg was engaged to Mark Burrington; they met and had a crush on each other in third grade. At the service Sunday, Burrington said he'd had "a thing" for Ruth for 40 years and when they reconnected it was for life.

"Finally everything was just perfect, everything fell into place," he said. "We were so in love."

And then the blast happened on Aug. 2 about 10:30 a.m. The couple shared a home so close to the school that Burrington said he actually felt the blast before running to check on her. The sight of the building in pieces told him everything he needed to know, he said.

Extended Interview: Mark Burrington Remembers his Fiancee, Ruth Berg

"This is definitely not the fairytale ending either one of us had planned," Burrington said. "This is a tough, tough day."

Their wedding was set and invitations had just arrived for the Sept. 28 nuptials in Colorado. Burrington and Berg's daughter have instead planned her memorial and funeral.

"I say goodbye to her every night, every day, every minute," he said. "I haven't even come to terms with this yet; I just really want to be there for Brittany, her daughter."

Sunday's service was a public memorial. A private one will be held for family and close friends Aug. 19.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the blast. An update is expected this week. 


Beth McDonough

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