Son of a factory worker. Married his high school sweetheart. Former produce manager.
Phillip Edward Berger was born in 1952 in New Rochelle, N.Y., though his mother was originally from Caswell County, N.C. Berger grew up in Danville, Va., and graduated from George Washington High School. After graduating, he worked in a factory where he unloaded sheets of wood from the end of a conveyor belt and next as a clerk in the produce department at Kroger. Berger eventually worked his way up to produce manager, which allowed him the time to attend college classes. He attended Danville Community College briefly and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Averett University while working odd jobs to pay his way through. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college. After college, Berger earned his law degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. while painting apartments to support his family. He first practiced law at a small firm in Charlotte, N.C. and then clerked for a year at the North Carolina Court of Appeals for Judge Eugene Phillips before joining an Eden law firm in 1984. In 2001, he and his two sons started the Berger Law Firm. Berger was elected as a Republican to the North Carolina Senate in 2000 and represents the 26th district, which includes Guilford and Rockingham counties. In 2011, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. He has continued to do so ever since and will continue in the role for the 2017-18 session of the General Assembly. Currently, Berger lives in Eden, N.C. with his wife, Pat, where he practices law. They have three children and four grandchildren. He enjoys reading, running, politics, law, history, baseball, and playing with his grandchildren. Among his heroes are President Calvin Coolidge, author and journalist William F. Buckley, economist Milton Friedman, and 19th century Frenchman Claude Frédéric Bastiat.
Editor’s Note: EdNC will be posting leadership profiles on the policymakers influencing education in North Carolina. Recently, I met with a member of our General Assembly. He noted that upon becoming a legislator people started treating him like an object. I come from a family that values public service, period. You know our policymakers as politicians. I hope our profiles help you know them better as people. EdNC wants you to be comfortable walking into the legislature, interacting with the legislators, and participating in state government – it is your government after all.