Ilva Lente Bergman passed away in Simsbury, Connecticut on March 3, 2022 after 99 years of an amazing life. Ilva was born on February 5, 1923 in Brooklyn, NY to Elsie Maud Pennington and Howard Otis Lente. She graduated from Roslyn High School in 1940 and attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. Ilva’s dream was to become a famous actress, but in reality, she said raising a family was her true calling and the happiest times of her life. She met her future husband, Charles Stephen Bergman, at age 16 when they both were members of the Williston (Long Island) Community Church Youth Group. “He was two years older than me,” she said, “and was immediately ‘smitten’ with my long, blonde pageboy hair cut.” They married on April 2, 1944 at the Williston Community Church in a wartime wedding, before Charlie returned to his Navy station in Norfolk, VA. Ilva said what she liked most about Charlie was that he was “the whole package” and someone whom she knew she could always depend on. This reliability was clearly illustrated in a humorous event that Ilva loved to tell her children MANY times. It took place on their wedding day when the button on her fancy silk underpants popped, and the panties slowly drifted down her legs. “When I got to the altar and met Charlie, I whispered, ‘When it’s time for the prayer, kneel down!’ He looked at me puzzled since Protestants didn’t kneel for prayers. I repeated it again, and sure enough, when it came time for the prayer, we both knelt, and I whipped the panties out from under me and stuffed them in the pocket of his Navy uniform! The minister was furious about the kneeling, but that’s when I knew I could always depend on Charlie. From then on, he never questioned anything I said!” Sadly, Charlie died on May 9, 1987, the darkest day of Ilva’s life. Ilva and Charlie had five “fabulous” (her word) children: Adrienne Beebe, Penny Eno, Pam Katz, Priscilla Joseph, and Peter Bergman. Ilva’s HUGE and extended family includes sons-in-law Ken Beebe, Ralph Eno, Dave Katz, Joel Joseph, and future daughter-in-law Rebecca Chronister; grandchildren Heather Brickner and husband Shawn; Sarah Felmly and husband Pete; Elizabeth Guillmette and husband Jim; Nikolaus Janson and fiancée Christie Routhier; Michael Katz and wife Shannon; Sean Janson and wife Vita; and Molly, Chad, Victoria Bergman Rose and husband Michael, Kathryn, and William Bergman. Then there are the GREAT grandchildren: Zack, Marisa, and Sophia Brickner; Robyn and Georgia Felmly; Charlie and Ralph Guillemette; Landon and Logan Janson; and Liam and Cecilia Katz. Also included are Ilva’s nephews Jeff Ackert and his wife Linda and Jay Ackert and his partner Judy Delaney. In addition, former daughter-in-law Valerie Bergman, former sons-in-law Bill Janson and the late Scott Carlisle, and her friend and late companion Frank Rossi were important members of “The Matriarch’s” family. Along with being a proud and “creative” (as she liked to describe herself) mother of five children, Ilva worked as a supervisor for the 1960 census, served on the Simsbury Board of Selectmen from 1974-1980, and worked alongside Charlie, keeping the books and running the office for their home building construction companies, Caliber Homes and then Bergman Building Corporation. They were particularly proud of their successful West Simsbury, Connecticut development of beautiful homes, called Wyngate. Ilva was never one to shy away from offering her offspring advice (whether they wanted to hear it or not.) Some of her more memorable sayings were “Look both ways before you cross” (spoken to you when you were doing something in your personal life she deemed risky or inappropriate); “Send a Thank You note or send it back” (repeated often after Christmas); “Break off a relationship first before they break it off with you (a.k.a. “Be the dumper, not the dumpee”); “Women should be independent and outspoken, but it doesn’t hurt to have a man around to drive you to dinner and buy you a drink”; “Match your leathers” (your shoes should match your belt); and finally “Life is short – eat dessert.” When asked what she thought her legacy was, Ilva said it was her five wonderful kids. . . “There isn’t a lemon in the bunch!” She was also very proud to be “contributing to medical science” by participating in the Yale University Alzheimers Research Study, which tracks memory loss in seniors. “They even pay me to go!” she added. And when asked what she wanted in her obituary, Ilva said without hesitation, “Just say I had a fabulous life. . . and make it humorous!” Indeed, her life said it all. A private burial will be held in Simsbury Cemetery, Simsbury, Connecticut at a later date. The Vincent Funeral Home of Simsbury is caring for the arrangements. Please visit Ilva’s “Book of Memories” at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online tributes.
Published by Hartford Courant on Mar. 6, 2022.