Obituary: Gary Vande Berg, Bemis Manufacturing VP

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Plastics News Gary Vande Berg, speaking at a 2012 conference.

Gary Vande Berg, an authority on injection molding technology who was vice president of engineering at Bemis Manufacturing Co., died on May 25, after battling cancer for about a year. He was 64.

Vande Berg worked for 34 years at Bemis, the custom injection molder in Sheboygan Falls, Wis. The company has played a leading role in advancing plastics technology, including pioneering coinjection molding and advanced automation. He helped lead development of an all-plastic shopping cart for Target department stores, which is covered by 20 patents.

He was a key part of development teams for parts ranging from aesthetic trim on home appliances to huge molded-in-color panels for agricultural equipment.

Vande Berg was born in Beaver Dam, Wis., and grew up in Fox Lake, Wis. He earned an associate’s degree in mechanical design from Morraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wis., and he took extensive plastics and manufacturing courses at University of Wisconsin campuses in Madison, Milwaukee and Platteville.

He spent his early career working as an engineer for Sundstrand Aviation, Mirro Corp., and West Bend Co. He developed patents at West Bend for a quick drip coffee maker and the Stir Crazy popcorn maker.

During his long career at Bemis, Vande Berg led development of countless new products and processes, working closely with Peter Bemis, who died in October.

A member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, Vande Berg was a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

Vande Berg had a number of hobbies. He enjoyed growing and displaying flowers. He restored antique International Harvester tractors, and customized toy tractors to customers’ wishes. He also collected and built scale model construction equipment and cranes. He served on the board of directors of the IH Collector’s Club of Wisconsin and a longtime member of the Dodge County Antique Power Club.

He was a volunteer firefighter for Fox Lake and a lifelong member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in that town.

He loved taking road trips in his Corvette, Pontiac Solstice and Honda Goldwing motorcycle.

Vande Berg sang in the church choir, quartets and a men’s choir. He was an avid skier and was active in local theater, as an actor and stage manager.