Vale Berto

We lost one of our own over the weekend.

Robert ‘Berto’ Osterlund passed away at home in Chicago after a hard battle with cancer, he had just turned 71 years old.

He leaves behind wife Lucy, and adult children, Mike, Laura, and Chris.

Berto became ‘Berto’ during a stint in the Philippines as a member of the Peace Corps. He not only came back with a new nom de plume but also a new bride in Lucy.

Berto was a foundation member of Wargame Design Studio (WDS) when it was established in August 2016. John Tiller had just passed us the rights to develop Panzer Battles, and Berto joined myself (David Freer) and Mike Avanzini as we looked to improve that game series. Berto’s love of the American Civil War saw him volunteering to work on the Civil War Battles series and he subsequently took over Panzer Campaigns, First World War Campaigns and Modern Campaigns as well. This was half of all the titles John Tiller Software was publishing at the time.

In tandem, Berto was working with Jason Petho and the Campaign Series Legion to develop the Talonsoft John Tiller’s Campaign Series that had subsequently been bought by Matrix Games/Slitherine. The result was Middle East 1948-1985 and Vietnam 1948-1967. Both had some of the best AI in the genre, all thanks to Berto.

Many of the innovations you are seeing in the WDS releases such as standardised user interfaces, hotkeys, variable victory locations, folders and a raft of game engine and other enhancements is thanks to Berto. He pioneered many of our improvements and the other teams subsequently lifted them and applied them across our other series. We have been fortunate to have had such a collaborative group of programmers as there has been a flow of ideas and execution both ways.

But more than anything, Berto was a fantastic human being. Always calm, he was a joy to work with despite us all operating virtually in multiple locations around the world. His love of history was a major impetus for him becoming a member, but it was his pride and love of family that shone through. He regularly talked about the achievements of his children, considering it one of his greatest successes in life.

We are all going to miss him. He has helped and guided us over the last eight years and our thoughts are with his family and friends as they prepare to both farewell, and celebrate a life well lived.



  • Bill Peters

    I got to know Berto during the development of the Philippines ’44 game. His input was most beneficial on the places on Luzon and other things as well. I will miss him and want to extend to his wife and family my heartfelt condolences as they carry on without him.

    His contributions in the work he did for the WDS team were so important to help us continue on with the series and see enhancements for the titles that came out during his tenure. Just a real loss for all of us.

    RIP Berto

  • peter winship

    Terrible news. Very sad.

  • Erick

    Deep condolences to family and may he rest in peace. Ameen.

  • Rich Hamilton

    Amen, Otilia – he is certainly missed by us all as well. Thank you for taking the time to come here and post as well. Peace be with you.


    Thank you all for your condolences and sympathies. Berto had a high regard for the WDS team. Thank you for the friendship you formed with him. He was truly a team-worker. A problem-solver, Berto would ponder long and hard on reported “bugs.” To focus on solution of a reported “bug”, he would take walks alone to ponder on it. When he comes back from the walk, I know he got the solution. He goes to work and implements it. He was such a devoted worker. On Berto’ final days, he prioritized his work with WDS, even while he was needing assistance getting up from his favorite lift chair to his office to get one final job done. Berto had his heart fixed on accomplishing a job well done including PIKT, a security program he developed while working at the Business School at the University of Chicago. I treasure the 45 years I was married to him, his wit and his diligence for me to overcome being a “Filipino spy” as he would call me when I mungle an idom, or American cultural reference. He was a devoted husband and a proud father to our children. I miss him dearly, yet his wit and humor gives me reason to smile even while I mourn his departure. His last wish list was a message of peace. As a follower of Christ, I believe Berto is now with the Prince of Peace. What an excellent place to be!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.