John Ward Berst

John passed away peacefully at Woodstock Hospital on September 6, 2021 in his 86th year. Beloved husband of the late Elaine (nee Butler) Berst (2016). He will be truly missed by daughters and sons-in-law Heather (Tony) Zwicewicz, Jennifer (Shaun) Hatchell and Julie Ellery (Dan Murray), his grandchildren Lindsay, John, Aaron, Alicia, Amanda, Jordan, Nathen, Nic, Jack and Jenna, and 12 (soon to be 13) great grandchildren, all of whom he was extremely proud.  Barb Newell, his friend and companion for the last five years, will also miss him dearly. He was a loved brother of Alfred (Jean) Berst, Betty (Bob) Balatka, Margaret (Fred) Catherwood, Barbara (Andy) Madill, and Uncle to many nieces and nephews. 

John was a teacher and principal at many schools over the years in both Oxford and Lambton County. He considered this position to be a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life and endeavored to know every child in the school by name. After retiring John fulfilled a long-held wish to take piano lessons and was successful in passing his Grade 7 Royal Conservatory Exam.  He felt his lessons made him a better member of the Knox Presbyterian Church Choir.  He enjoyed many hobbies over the years including flying, hunting, fishing and bridge playing with friends he had known since childhood. An avid lover of nature, he was able to continue enjoying his walks on the Pittock Trail until the week before his passing.

Cremation has taken place, and a private celebration of John’s life will be held at a future date.  Wareing Cremation Services, 225 Norwich Ave., Woodstock, Ontario entrusted with final arrangements.  Messages of remembrance and condolence may be shared at


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  • Very sorry to see your dads passing…I enjoyed many wonderful years of association with Elaine and John at Knox.

  • We heard about John’s passing on our return home today. We had many times together over the years at educational activities. One activity included an evening of shuffleboard while at a retreat. What an enjoyable time we had! Please accept our sympathy.

    Stan&Connie Skipper
  • Thoughts and prayers to the family

    Helen and John Davis
  • My deepest condolences to you Heather and your Family.
    Your father was a gentle soul and will sorrily be missed. Be comforted with the hope that he is resting in peace in the hands of our Lord.

    Bruno Sodaro
  • We are deeply saddened to learn of John’s death. He was a wonderful, faithful member, elder and leader of Knox Presbyterian Church.
    Prayers arising for his family.
    The Rev. Mark and Susan McLennan

    Mark McLennan
  • I always enjoyed talking to Uncle John about teaching and family. He was an interesting man of many talents. I will miss him and send condolences to his family.

    Christine Roberts
  • I will miss John so much, We enjoyed so many good times together, He was so wonderful over the past sad months & a real fighter, he enjoyed life so much, it is so sad to see him go.

    Barbara Newell

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