Obituary for John Patrick Berdes

By: - Jul 11, 2016
Source: The Seattle Times
1957 ~ 2016

John Berdes, president and CEO of Craft3, an unconventional lending institution, died Sunday, June 12, 2016 of lung cancer. He lived in Seattle and was 58.

John joined Craft3 - then called ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific - in 1995, six months after the nonprofit was created. Craft3 is a community development financial institution that provides loans and other assistance to people and businesses that may not have access to traditional financing. Previously, John was a community coordinator for the Capitol Hill Community Council in Seattle, the founding executive director of Capitol Hill Housing, and senior program director for the Local Initiatives Support Corp. He lived in Astoria, Oregon for many years.

Born in Neenah, Wisconsin, John was the son of George R. and Jane L. Berdes. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Bethesda, Maryland. He earned a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Oberlin College in Ohio. His commitment to caring for others through social and economic change began with a volunteer stint with the Community for Creative Non-Violence, in Washington, D.C. According to his sisters, he grew into a man who cared deeply about the people and communities around him, and who devoted his life to changing their circumstances for the better.

John had wide circles of friends and colleagues in Seattle, Astoria, and beyond, many of whom actively supported him through his last illness. Mike Dickerson, co-founder of Craft3 with John, who was part of John's care team and loved him like a brother, said: "John had a rare intellect he was able to combine with a deep passion for justice and equity. His impact in local and national community development is beyond measure and lasting. He was a personal compass for many and his compassion, generosity and wicked sense of humor will be deeply missed."

John was our much-loved brother and uncle and friend. He is survived by his sisters, Celia Berdes with her daughter Renata and son Simon, Beth Berdes with her daughter Megan (David) Costello, and Madelyn Golliher with her husband Carlos, as well as many other relatives and family friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his long-time partner, Jim Reichert. Jim's family mourns with us as well.

The family would like to thank John's home care team and the doctors, nurses, and respiratory staff in the ICU at Swedish Hospital. There will be no service, at John's request. Tributes may be made to The Harbor Resource Center in Astoria ( or to Lower Columbia Memorial Hospice via Columbia Memorial Hospital (

You can also share memories of John on the Craft3 Facebook page