Charlene Kay Berg, “Char”, died on December 5, 2021, at the age of 72 after a long and courageous battle with multiple sclerosis. She was the owner and director of Charlene’s Gallery Ten for 25 years in both Rockford, Illinois, and in Gills Rock, Wisconsin. She was also the co-owner of Gills Rock Coffee and Gills Rock Coffee Airbnb with her husband Dewey.
Char was born on May 19, 1949, to Josephine and Leonard Berg of Rochelle, Illinois. After graduating from Northern Illinois University with a Business degree, she pursued a career in advertising, but her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for art led her to open a custom frame shop in Rockford, Illinois.
While running her framing business, Char became a partner in Gallery X, a Rockford art gallery operated by ten area artists. In 1989, she married the love of her life, Dwain “Dewey” Risenhoover.
Longing to join the artistic community in Door County, and with Dewey’s support and encouragement, they moved to Gills Rock, where Char founded and ran the iconic Charlene’s Gallery Ten. Char served as a treasured mentor and muse for dozens of Midwestern artists by giving them opportunities to showcase their work in her gallery and through her Gills Rock Art Fest, a Labor Day weekend event currently in its 22nd season.
Needing to close the gallery for health reasons, Char again reinvented herself, as the baker for Dewey’s Gills Rock Coffee Shop. With no baking experience, Char taught herself how to bake “homemade-from-scratch” goodies from triple fudge brownies to her award-winning Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. Knowing no strangers, she drew people into the coffee shop and much-loved home with her lightning-fast wit, welcoming manner, and legendary sense of humor. Day after day people entered the coffee shop as caffeine-seeking customers and left as lifelong friends. These experiences led her to write her delightful memoir, entitled Char’s Baking Bloopers. The book is currently in its third printing. Charlene had two vices: chocolate and shoes. She indulged in both.
Char is survived by her beloved family which includes husband, Dewey; brother, James Dedric Berg; sister-in-law, Clair Mary Ann (Constant) Berg; nieces, Lisa Berg and Julia Berg; nephew, Riley and grandnephew “Baby Bump”, Sondre, all of Oslo, Norway; their dog, Rocky; as well as stepchildren, Jennifer (Risenhoover) Berry and Rob Risenhoover of Rockford, Illinois; and a community who will greatly miss her.
She was preceded in death by her sister, Cheryl, and her mother and father.
A memorial service is planned for Labor Day weekend of 2022. Contributions in her memory may be sent to DOOR CANcer, P.O. Box 423, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Wisconsin Chapter, www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/WIG.
Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Sister Bay is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Char may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
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