PHOENIXVILLE - Husband, father, community organizer and historian, Hugh Brent "Pete" Bamberger, 72, died Sunday from injuries suffered in an automobile accident on Saturday, June 12.

Bamberger was president of the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area and had been president of the Phoenixville branch of the Kiwanis in the past.

His wife of 46 years, Jonni, said that Bamberger was an avid reader of history and often lent books to friends. He actively studied the church's role in history and World War II.

"He was a big bear of a man who shook the trees and while a lot of fruit fell down, he always got the honey," said longtime friend and fellow Kiwanian George Mansur about the 6', 6" Bamberger. "He got a lot done. I don't know who will take his place. He was a big-hearted kind of guy."

Several family members gathered and spoke about Bamberger on Monday. Often they finished each other's sentences.

Brent Bamberger said that his father was an avid sports fan, whether it be gymnastics, soccer, basketball, football or baseball.

Daughter Megan Bamberger fondly remembered her father sitting at the YMCA at 5 a.m. with a cup of coffee during swim practice.

Bamberger's family had a nice laugh when a family member said that his role as a spectator was not limited to only his children and grandchildren but extended to "everybody's" children.

"You could count on him to be at your games, high school practice, football, and events," said son Greg Bamberger. "He traveled all over the country."

"But he was just not around when involved in sports. He gave both advice and financially."

Fellow Kiwanian Julie Petersheim fondly recalled his sense of humor and the ribbings he gave, but also said, "He was one of the kindest, gentlest men I have come to know. He always cared enough to ask personal questions and wait to hear the responses. He spent time with you as if he had all the time in the world to listen to your problems, which is such a feat (considering all the) positions and volunteer responsibilities he took on."

Jack Ertell, of the historical society, said that Bamberger worked tirelessly to publicize the society and was instrumental in preserving 120 years of local newspapers on microfilm.

Ertell said that Bamberger's role and "larger than life personality" helped to produce the new Phantom TV show on local history.

"He had a pivotal and very significant role in helping behind the scenes."

He was a member of the St. Basil The Great Roman Catholic Church.

Reverend Linda Gruber of St. John's United Church of Christ will miss Bamberger's involvement with the Phoenixville Council of Churches, various task forces and diversity studies.

"He was a person of faith with a great deal of compassion for the community," said Gruber.

Bamberger and his wife also enjoyed working together for common causes including volunteer work at the Colonial Theatre and the Phoenixville Public Library.

Bamberger was instrumental in the first library purchase of computers and helped staff the Colonial.

"My baby brother resented the title , but he will always be introduced as our baby brother," said sister Ann Wren. "He was my pal."

Jonni said that her husband prepared the "biggest breakfasts" and he was a good cook.

Per Bamberger's instructions, the drum solo from Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" will be played at his funeral service along with "When the Saints Go Marching In" for trumpets.

In 2003, Bamberger was one of 12 recipients of Mayor Leo Scoda's Citizen Recognition Award.

"He never shied away form the work part of any organization's set-up," said Scoda about Bamberger. "He was often awake at 5 a.m. preparing chickens for the Kiwanis Community Day. He did so much for so many poeple in so many differrent ways. We're really going to miss him."

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