MOORHEAD — What today is called Minnesota State Community and Technical College Moorhead has had many names since it opened in the mid-1960s.

But one name in particular — Oscar Bergos — will be forever tied to the school.

Bergos, who died Saturday, Nov. 16, at the age of 88, was the school's director from its inception in 1965 until 1987, when he retired.

Bergos guided the fledgling school from an institution that started with about 30 students attending just three courses in 1966, to one that a decade later offered 23 courses attended by about 1,000 students. Many of those courses had long waiting lists.

"We've got a good reputation and we've worked hard for that," Bergos told an interviewer in 1978, referring to what at that time was called Moorhead Area Vocational Technical Institute, operated by Moorhead Area Public Schools.

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Oscar Bergos and his wife, Marlys. Special to The Forum
Oscar Bergos and his wife, Marlys. Special to The Forum

In the years since, the school has undergone a number of mergers and changes, with corresponding name changes.

In the 1980s, it was called Moorhead Technical College, or simply Moorhead Tech.

By the early 1990s, it was Northwest Technical College.

The school became Minnesota State Community and Technical College in 2003, and today enrollment stands at about 2,500 students.

One structure on campus is called the Oscar Bergos Center, a nod to Bergos' legacy.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, one of Bergos' daughters, Mary Traaseth, remembered her father as an honest and direct man who produced a good program at the vocational school in Moorhead.

"I know that dad then and even in more recent years would talk about how he thought that a technical education was extremely important," Traaseth said.

"Not everybody wants to go to a four-year college; there are some people that want to get out and learn a trade right away and start making a good income," she added.

Prior to taking the vocational school director job in Moorhead in 1965, Bergos was the assistant director at the vocational school in Willmar, Minn., where he had also taught business classes.

His resume included a stint in the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel, serving in Korea during the Korean War.

During his years at the vocational school in Moorhead and beyond, Bergos was very involved in civic organizations, including the Vikingland Kiwanis, of which he was a charter member.

He was also president of the Moorhead Blue Line hockey club during the time a major push was made to pass a bond issue to build the Moorhead Sports Center, which still stands on the Moorhead High School campus.

"That was a real big deal for him," Traaseth said, adding that her father, who was known as "Oak," had a big personality that filled the room.

"He had a beautiful bass voice, sang in the choir," she said, adding that her dad was also a big-time jokester.

"He was a good storyteller," she said, "always remembered good stories, good jokes."

The Korsmo Funeral Chapel, 409 8th St. S., Moorhead, is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation is set for 5-7 p.m., with a 6:30 p.m. prayer service, on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the chapel.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Nov. 22, in Lutheran Church of Christ the King, 1900 14th St. S., Moorhead, where lunch will be served.

Burial will be at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Moorhead.