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Philanthropist Benjamin Berger Dies At 91

February 10, 1988 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Philanthropist Benjamin N. Berger, who owned the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team during their championship era and who donated a fountain in the shape of a dandelion to the city, has died at age 91.

Berger, who suffered a stroke a week ago, died Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hospital.

He was founder and first president of Amicus, an organization that works with prisoners and ex-convicts, and was a benefactor of the University of Minnesota Law School, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, the Kiwanis Club and other organizations.

In 1975 he donated the Berger Fountain, a huge spherical fountain that resembles a dandelion in seed, to the city.

Berger was a native of Ostrowiecz, Poland, who came to the United States in 1913 at age 16 and settled in Fargo, N.D. He became a citizen while serving in the Army during World War I.

Berger bought his first movie house in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1921, and eventually owned a chain of 19 theaters. In 1944, as a favor to a friend, Berger bought Schiek’s Cafe, a popular local nightclub.

In 1947 he became owner and president of the National Basketball Association’s Minneapolis Lakers. The club won the NBA five league championships, in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954, when they were centered by Hall of Famer George Mikan.

Berger was involved with the club, which moved to Los Angeles to 1960, for about 10 years. He was also owner and president of the Minneapolis Millers, a minor league hockey team, in the late 1950s.

Berger is survived by his wife, Mildred, and one son.