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H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation President Ronald M. Auen has died


Ronald M. Auen, the longtime President and Chairman of the Board for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, has died, foundation officials confirmed Thursday. He was 87.

Auen took the foundation's helm in 1988 and oversaw the growth of the organization for over three decades. He was asked to accept the leadership position as President and Chairman of the Board by Mrs. Berger after the passing of Mr. Berger.

The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation issued the following statement in the wake of Auen's passing:

It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Ronald M. Auen.

The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation was led by Ron for more than 30 years. Ron Auen was a father, brother, friend and mentor to each of us. As we all mourn this loss, we ask that the people of our community think of his wife, Sherrie, his children and extended family in this difficult time, and give them the love and support they need.

Ron came from humble beginnings. He believed in hard work. At an early age, he enlisted in the United States Army, considered himself a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks” and took every opportunity to learn various skills along the way. Not only will he be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit and gumption, but also for the positive impacts he had on thousands of people during his life especially during his tenure with the Foundation.

According to the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation's website, the organization has contributed more than $800 million to charities throughout the Southland and nationwide under Auen's leadership.

The Auen Foundation was formed by Sherrie and Ron Auen in 1992 with a goal of "Enriching the Quality of Life for Our Aging Population."

“Ron was the business, and Sherrie has been the heart. Together, they made the world a better place for so many," said Catharine Reed, Auen's stepdaughter and Senior Program Officer for the Auen Foundation.

The College of the Desert has the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and Auen to thank for several major contributions that helped create cornerstone programs at the institution.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of Ronald Auen. He stood out not only for his business acumen and charitable leadership, but as a warm and generous person,” said College of the Desert Superintendent/President Joel L. Kinnamon, Ed.D. “Ron improved the lives of countless people across the Coachella Valley and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Our College of the Desert story is just one piece of an amazing legacy.”

COD's statement:

The College of the Desert Board of Trustees and community college family are saddened by the death of Ron Auen.  Ron and his wife Sherrie have long been supporters of the College and our students.

The Berger Foundation has been instrumental in providing financial support for nursing programs, the McCarthy Family Child Development & Training Center, math and science programs and creating SMART classrooms. Including the Berger Faculty Innovation Center, which was opened in 2015, the foundation’s total financial support of student success initiatives exceeds $2.5 million.

The donation to create the Berger Faculty Innovation Center was a forward-thinking gift that demonstrates the commitment of the Berger Foundation to education as envisioned by the founders provides the college with innovative technology advancement that supports faculty professional development, which ultimately translates into enhanced instruction and student results in the classroom.  

More than 1000 visits are made to the Center by faculty each month as they utilize cutting-edge technology to create new curriculum, incorporate technological advances into the classroom, and add innovation to their teaching—all leading to improved student success outcomes.

Auen was born on August 24, 1932.

There is no public memorial service planned.

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Sam Benson Smith

Sam Benson Smith is the Digital Content Director for Gulf California Broadcasting. Learn more about Sam here.


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