Obituary of Jim Berlin
By Jim Berlin
After collecting a journalism degree from the Jesuits and an infantry MOS from the Marines, I began my newspaper career as a reporter and humor columnist for a Michigan daily. At age 24 (under the name Jim Fiebig) I became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in U.S. history (L.A. Times Syndicate, United Feature), and continued churning out three a week on current events for the next 15 years. It never made me rich.
In the meantime I co-produced a syndicated comic strip, was a newspaper editor, feature writer, editorial writer, built an ulcer as a copywriter and creative director for various ad agencies and inhaled cigarettes and drank alcohol at a rate that gave new meaning to the word dissipation.
When the flames on my candle were a whisker away from meeting in the middle, I reassessed my life.
What did I really want to do?
And I did it: became a Phoenix police officer.
I was in my mid-thirties (the other recruits called me “Pops”), and the next 20 years in the mud, the blood and the beer were the happiest of my life.
I walked away as a patrol lieutenant with honor intact – loved by the street cops and barely tolerated by the brass.
The retirement party ended at one in the morning. At 6 a.m. I boarded a plane for Bosnia and a year with the International Police Task Force. We were there to assist the Muslim, Croatian, and Serb cops, acquaint them with the tenets of humane policing, and drag them kicking and screaming into modern law enforcement. I lived in a farmhouse in the Serb Republic. Everyone had a pig, a garden, and a hangover. For whatever reason the Serb cops, fresh from the killing fields, liked me and looked out for me. I did what I could to make them better police officers.
I came home sweet home with an even stronger love for America, and my beautiful family.
Jim is survived by his wife, Linda Berlin, his daughter Sophia Fire, his granddaughters Elisa Hill and Electra Fire, great grand-sons Elias and Josiah Hill, and sons-in-law, Eddie Fire and Mario Vincitorio.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jim Berlin, please visit Tribute Store