When Berta Hamilton said, in her German accent, thick as the day is long, “Vat da hell…” you knew she meant business. You got a little scared, but also excited to see what came next. One time, she got pissed because someone ate a steak and left the fat. So, she ate it. Because…what a waste.
Berta was born December 27, 1930 in Oberalting-Seefeld, Germany. She was the oldest of three children. She survived a World War. She immigrated to Brooklyn, New York across the Atlantic into a new culture with her first husband Stephen Confortini, learned the language, had five children, and moved to Connecticut.
Berta supported herself and her children. She worked multiple jobs including Dunkin’ Donuts next to Carvel in New Milford for over 30 years. Maybe you bought a coffee from her. Maybe she spoke German to you. Most definitely she made you laugh with her acerbic wit. She never lost sight of who she was and what she wanted out of this life. She found her soulmate in 1984 when she met Fred. They married and built a home and the American Dream on Candlewood Lake in New Milford, holding court with the best beach parties around. He called her his Barbie doll. They traveled the world together, danced up a storm, and enjoyed being snow birds for 15 years in Florida.
Berta was 100% German 200% of the time. She loved the schuhplatter and the accordian and could identify a good oompa band from a mile away. She wrote her own songs and was a self-taught musician—she played the organ, piano, guitar, and zither. She made spaetzle, dumplings, sauerkraut, apple strudel, and the best sauce and meatballs. She sang at the Arion Singing Society/German American Club in New Milford for over 40 years and yodeled with the Marty Blank Band. Maybe you remember her performing on the bandstand in the Alpine Village at the Danbury Fair.
Her people were from Bavaria, where everyone knew how to have a good time. Family gatherings were full of merriment, music, food, drinks, and singing. Always singing. At holidays, if someone had a friend that had nowhere to go, she invited them in—no matter whom you were or where you were from. At Christmas, she made us sing Silent Night in English, German, and Portuguese, to represent all cultures in our family. And if you didn’t sing, she made you—or gave you the crooked pointed finger and demanded “SING” until you did. Because of Berta, we all know every word to Edelweiss, her favorite song. (She even had a wooden one constructed to hang under the eve of her home on Candlewood Lake.) Because of Berta, we all love The Sound of Music, her favorite musical. Because of Berta, we all are terrified of the Struwwelpeter (shudder). Because of Berta, we always toast, “Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!. Because of Berta, we’ve all been forced to take a Jager shot against our own will and judgement. (And if you didn’t, she chastised you as she slammed her empty shot glass on the bar.)
In her heyday, Berta swam across her cove on Candlewood Lake every morning. She was an avid water skier and could drop a ski and slalom better than anyone you’ve ever seen. She loved the mountains and could conquer a black diamond without breaking a sweat. She did all of this well into her seventies. She could polka and square dance and waltz and fox trot and stop you dead in your tracks dressed in her dirndl. She was a hot ticket. We should all aspire to have even a fraction of her kick-assedness. Her tenaciousness. Her fierceness. She was generous and mighty, all five feet of her. She may have been tough, but she was full of love and devoted to her family. She never missed a beat and if you thought you were pulling one over on her, you better think again. She was kind and inclusive, firm and fair. She was a no-frills kind of woman.
Berta passed on her own terms (she wouldn’t have had it any other way), surrounded by her closest family and friends. She is survived by her sister, Katerina Gerstner, niece Petra Baumgartner (Stefan), and nephew Mikhail Gerstner (Isi) from Germany; her amazingly patient and gentle husband of 32 years, Fred Hamilton of Brookfield, CT; her five children: Rudy Confortini (Gale) of New Milford, CT; Evelyn Hauser (Bruce) of Morris, CT; Stephen Confortini (Penny) of New Milford, CT; Roberta Diaz (Ralph) of Cascade, Montana; and Andrew Confortini (Juliana) of Danbury, CT; eight grandchildren that she helped steer, raise, and shape: Sara, Jessica, Stephen, Tyler, Andrew, Isabella, Sophia, and Trenyon; and three great-grandchildren whom she cherished: Lleyton, Reece, and Huckleberry. She will also be greatly missed by her best friends, AnneRose, Marianne, Trudy, and Nora. Berta was pre-deceased by her parents, Berta and Rudolf; her brother, Maxell; her brother-in-law, Heinz; and her grandson, John.
Wir lieben dich mein Oma.
Calling hours will take place at the Lillis Funeral Home, 58 Bridge Street, New Milford, CT, Friday November 15, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturday November 16, 2019 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Berta’s favorite charity: 501 St. Jude’s Place, Memphis, TN 38105.