Roberta (Berty) Mae Reichenberg passed peacefully in her home on October 25, 2019, at the age of 95. As with most things in her life, she did it her way.
Berty was born in Billings on November 1, 1923, to Charles and Margaret (Abel) Rodgers, the third of six children. She graduated from Billings High School in 1941. After graduation, she moved to Washington state to work as a sheet metal fabricator in a B-16 bomber plant. On May 25, 1944 she enlisted as a Private in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) with women she had met working at the aircraft plant. She served until being honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant on May 11, 1946.
After her discharge from the Army, Berty returned home to Billings where she met her husband Raymond J. Reichenberg. The two were married in Red Lodge on July 3, 1948. They had one daughter, Margaret (Peggy). After a prolonged illness, Raymond passed away in October 1960 from a brain tumor. Berty then took on the role of a single parent.
Berty was in the work force her entire life. After her Army service, she worked as a legal secretary for the Law Offices of Fred Dugan. She later left that employment to run the Civil Department at the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office. She ultimately rose to the rank of Chief Deputy under Sheriff Roy Stewart. In that position, she had the full responsibility of supervising all the Deputy Sheriffs and managing the County Jail. After retiring from the Sheriff’s office, she worked for the Montana Department of Revenue as an Investigator, where her skill and dedication to duty put the Billings office in the top ten in the nation for establishing paternity of delinquent fathers.
Berty was also an accomplished athlete. She lettered in basketball in high school and played fastpitch softball during her youth in Billings. She then played 2nd base on the men’s softball team during her time in the Army. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Billings Fastpitch Softball Hall of Fame. Berty also bowled and, in her later years, took up golf, where she proudly scored a hole in one.
Everyone who knew Berty respected her for her honesty, integrity and independent spirit. She was a loyal friend and a fantastic role model for all women. She embodied the best of the Greatest Generation.
Berty was predeceased by her husband, her parents, her brother Hector Rodgers and her sisters Margaret Rodgers (died in infancy), Helen Bulger and Fae Morris. She is survived by her daughter Peggy, her sister Polly Kirkness and her nephew Rodger Warwick, all of Billings, as well as other numerous nieces and nephews.
As Berty requested, she was cremated and there will be no funeral service. Her ashes will be interred with her husband in the Veteran’s section of Mountview Cemetery,
In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, donations can be made in Berty’s Memory to the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 20920, Billings, MT 59104-0920. Their website is www.yvas.org