Richard Allen Berry, age, 71, passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on Sept. 19, 2019, at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore, MD, surrounded by family and medical staff due to an automobile accident in the Baltimore area. He is survived by wife of 50 years, Janet L. (McClure) Berry; sons, Edgar Allen Berry (Peg) and James William Berry (Casey); grandson, Dawson James Berry; granddaughters, Chelsey Hunter (Ian) and Kenzie Streng; great-grandson, Axel Hunter; nephew, Matt Weygandt (Melissa); and niece, Michelle Kilner (Dan). He is preceded in death by parents, Edgar John Berry and Mildred L. Hershey Berry; brother, Edgar John Berry II; and daughter-in-law, Michelle Wickline Berry.
Richard was the second son for Edgar and Mildred Berry who raised both of them in Mansfield, Ohio. At a very young age, Richard was hit with asthma and the doctor recommended he learn to play the trumpet. This is how his love of music began. In 1966 he graduated from Mansfield Sr. High School where he was involved in all bands and orchestras. His band director was the late Percy Hall and his parents had already started driving him for lessons at Ohio State with Richard Suddendorf. Making the OSU marching band, under the direction of the late Dr. Charles Spohn, locked him into being a teacher. There he studied conducting with the late Dr. Donald McGinnis and was a member of his concert band. While in the marching band he was fortunate enough to march in the Rose Parade, half-time show, see the Buckeyes win that Rose Bowl in 1969 and in the same year, march in the inaugural parade for President Nixon. Before graduation from OSU, he met and fell in love with a clarinet player, Jan whom he married on June 6th, 1969.
Richard’s high school band director career started right after graduation in 1970 in Fredericktown, OH and moved to Orange H.S. in Pepper Pike, OH in 1974, Niles H.S. in 1978, Lawrenceburg H.S. in Indiana in 1979, Jeffersonville, H.S. in Indiana in 1982 and Jackson H.S. in 1989-2005 which brought him back to Ohio. In 1975, he completed his MA at OSU in music education. While moving from community to community, he also had the pleasure to direct adult church choirs. The notes from Helen Swank’s choir class at OSU served him well. He loved his adult choirs and covered a broad spectrum of church literature with them. After his oldest son, Ed, chose OSU to major in music and made the marching band on trombone, the family moved to Jackson, Ohio, in 1989, which was just 1.5 hours from campus. Here, Dick felt like he was home. In every school system, he dearly loved his students, but there was something about the hills in southeastern Ohio which reminded him of Mansfield. He started with around 25 students for marching band that fall, and it grew as former students quickly came back. In Jackson, it did not take long before the size of the band became the biggest and one of the best in the area. He was always humbled by the community support which came whenever the band needed more uniforms, more or new equipment, rain coats, food, support for trips to Disney World, to Chicago parades, to the Kentucky Derby, to Athens to play for an OU game and the list goes on and on. Here Richard stayed for 16 years until he retired in 2005 to move to be closer to his doctors at OSU.
In every community Richard taught, he made sure a student could join band at any time, the students participated in local and out-of-state parades and events, and any student could call him at any time if they needed help of any kind. His phone number was always on the chalk boards and they always received the pre-prom speech, “If you need help call! Jan and I will come pick you up and drive you home.” His students have performed at parades across the country, band days at colleges, they have been selected to perform at colleges who did not have a band, at Sea World, Disney World, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Canada, holiday parades in Chicago, the Kentucky Derby parade, pregame skull sessions at OSU and they have become members of outstanding college and military bands.
Richard was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Beta Mu, OMEA, MENC, a Mason, a Shriner, Tap’s Across America and many others. He also received recognitions from the communities where he taught for his dedicated work both with students and in the communities. His passions outside of teaching, church choirs and family were reading, golfing, fishing and gardening. Maybe now he is doing these things…
A Celebration of Life will be held at Richard’s last teaching position, Jackson High School, 500 Vaughn St., Jackson, Ohio. The celebration of life will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 at 4 p.m. in the gymnasium with family receiving friends immediately prior from 2 to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider ”paying forward” by donating to one of Richard’s favorite causes: The Richard Berry Memorial Scholarship, c/o Jackson City Schools Band Boosters, P.O. Box 255, Jackson, OH 45640; ONLINE to: GIVE TO OSU – The TBDBITL Scholarship Fund #607138 or GIVE TO OSU – Courtney Williams Fund in Heart Failure Research #315265. The service will be officiated by Associate Pastor, Janie Karl, from Christ United Methodist Church and directed by the Lewis & Gillum Funeral Home of Jackson, Ohio. To read more about Richard’s life and visit the online guestbook, go to www.lewisgillum.com