orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

February 4, 2013

BC “Birdman” dies at 80

Staff reports
The Orange Leader

BRIDGE CITY — A well known yet surprisingly unknown resident of Bridge City has died.

Bertal Hjerpe was better known as “The Birdman” in Bridge City. He died Saturday.

“The Birdman” was very often found walking the streets of Bridge City and carried birdseed with him to feed the birds along the way.

“He is one of my first memories of growing up in Bridge City,” Orange Leader Editor Gabriel Pruett said. “I remember seeing him walking every time we left the house.”

Pruett grew up in Bridge City before moving to Groves and recently moving back to Bridge City two years ago.

“I find it amazing how many people knew him yet probably do not know much about him,” Pruett added. “I am saddened he is no longer with us. ‘The Birdman’ to me was Bridge City as much as anyone else.”

An obituary from Memorial Funeral Home in Vidor said “his joy in life was buy bags full of groceries and giving them to the elderly, the poor and the widowed of the community every week. He was an Army Veteran who served in Korea. Mr. Bert was a philanthropist in his own right. He made many financial contributions to local and state charities. He also contributed to institutes of higher learning, such as colleges and universities.”

Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte said “The Birdman” would stop by his service station in the past and drop off nuts, bolts and screws as a friendly gesture.

“He was being friendly by picking those things up off the street and thought they would be useful to me,” Roccaforte said. “He was known by all but very little was ever really known about him. People still to this day ask from time to time about him. People still remember ‘Birdman.’ It is sad but at that age that is a great life.”

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Memorial Funeral Home of Vidor with burial to follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Port Arthur. Visitation will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.