Born in San Francisco June 17, 1923, Bert was the eighth child of the late Thomas and Emma Callen (nee Hailer), the second born of a pair of identical twins. Pre-deceased by his wife Mary (nee Feigl), his twin Thomas, his sisters Elizabeth Treherne, Evelyn Farr, Emma Gugel, Rose Greene, Eleanore Snyder, and Frances Mitchell—(George, Glenn, Edmund, William, Kenneth, Fred, respectively). Survived by his son Mark, Mark’s wife Julie Maher, grandsons Alexander and Gabriel, his sister-in-law Ruth Bogue Callen, and numerous nieces and nephews to four generations.
Bert grew up in the Portola//Bayview Districts of the City, attending E.R. Taylor Elementary School, Portola Junior High School, and St. Peter’s Boys High School in the Mission District. He was a graduate of St. Mary’s College, California (BA); the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University in the City of New York (MA); University of Paris (Sorbonne).
For twenty-five years Bert was a member of the Department of English at George Washington High School, San Francisco, the last ten years as department head. Active in teachers’ rights and welfare programs, he was elected to three terms as president of the Teachers Association of San Francisco. For four spring semesters he was coach of the GWHS tennis team, whose players brought to the school two city championships, the second with the valuable assistance of Mr. Fred Suessman. Bert was later employed at the University of California, Medical Center as secretary to Stephen N. Cohen, M.D., Director of Clinical Laboratories.
A veteran of the US Army in the Second World War, Bert was assigned to the Army Airways Communications Squadron and trained as a control tower operator. He served overseas in General MacArthur’s Asiatic Pacific Campaign from Queensland, Australia, to Nadzab, Papua New Guinea; Hollandia, Dutch East Indies New Guinea; and the Philippine Islands, where Bert took part in two task force/invasions; Leyte and Mindoro. Awarded the Bronze Star.
In early February 1945, the island of Mindoro having been invaded and secured, Bert, along with his buddies Harry Keller of Los Angeles, and Richard Bortner of Oak Park, Illinois volunteered to be flown into the combat zone at Clark Field, Luzon, P.I., to initiate the return of American air traffic to that historic air base. Their first “tower” was the still-intact right wing of a Japanese Zero fighter, damaged by recent American bombing sorties, which lay alongside Clark’s short pre-war concrete strip. Their receiver//transmitter was jury-rigged from the radio in the Zero’s cockpit. During the next eight months Bert worked the tower at Clark Field, where the installation of two lengthy hard-panned strips allowed Clark to accommodate heavy bombers and become for a brief time one of the busiest military airstrips in the world. Bert’s last overseas assignment was at Chofu Airbase, Japan.
Private services already held with inurnment at Holy Cross Cemetery, St. Helena. Memorial donations may be made to Martin de Porres Hospitality House, 525 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco; Children’s Hospital, UCSF; St. Anthony’s foundation; the beneficiary of your choice.