Jim Bergamaschi led a busy life in Ceres, responding to the community needs of Ceres, which was home to him for 58 years before his death on Oct. 20, 2020. As the town barber he gave away free haircuts to inspire student athletes to excel, and he helped guide the Ceres Chamber of Commerce and the Ceres Garden Club.
The community gave Jim his due on June 14 with the planting of a camphor tree next to a memorial plaque near Smyrna Park’s “Let Freedom Ring Grove” which he helped to establish in 2013. As president of the club then he helped in the raising of $6,000 for the grove, which memorializes all U.S. presidents. A 2-and-half foot by 3-foot marble plaque paid for by the Garden Club reads: “In memory of Jim Bergamaschi 11/20/1929 – 10/20/2020. Ceres Garden Club.”
“He was a Navy veteran, very, very proud of that,” said Ceres Garden Club past President Berni Hendrix. “When he was the Garden Club president he arranged for the Blue Star Memorial marker that’s there at the Community Center to be installed. In fact, he even made arrangements for the Blue Angels to do a flyover during that dedication ceremony.”
She noted that Jim, who “always wanted to give back to the community,” was the one who instituted and paid for the 14-foot-tall Christmas tree that is placed at the Whitmore Park gazebo every December.
Bergamaschi was a native of Butte, Montana who moved to Ceres in 1962 with wife Colleen, who survives him. As a Ceres Chamber official, he helped the community get the Ceres Peach Festival going in 1971 when peaches were a predominant crop in Stanislaus County. Back then it was a downtown festival which later moved to Smyrna Park. The festival fell by the wayside as peaches gave way to almonds as the main orchard crop. The festival was reinstituted as the Ceres Street Faire.
The Ceres Garden Club meets every third Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. at the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street.